Surprising Salsa Ingredients

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(KTVI) - Summertime is the time for fresh ingredients in our foods, like salsa. Salsa does go beyond tomatoes and onions though.

Aura Kavaldo from Mrs. Wages talks about some of the surprising salsa ingredients you can enjoy.

Chips are always are the traditional food to eat salsa with, however there are other things that go well with salsa too, such as:

1. Cherries
2. Mangoes
3. Watermelon
4. Pineapple
5. Nectarines
6. Tomatillos

For more salsa recipes, go here.

6 Surprising Salsa IngredientsBy Emily McKenna, Recipe Developer & Tester for EatingWell Magazine

My husband and I are salsa addicts. We eat it with chips and quesadillas, on our burgers and stuffed inside grilled cheese sandwiches.

Lately, though, we've wanted more variety than traditional tomato-based salsas and have started to experiment with fruity, summery ingredients like cherries, mango, pineapple and nectarines that make great fresh salsas! Here are 6 surprising foods to make salsa with and sensational salsa recipes from EatingWell that we love and now make all the time at home.

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Like tomatoes, cherries are sweet and tart, and they have enough body and integrity to stand in for tomatoes in salsa, especially when mixed with smoky chipotle chiles. This rich salsa is a fantastic accompaniment to these grilled pork fajitas.

Pork Fajitas with Smoky Cherry Salsa
Makes: 4 servings
Active time: 45 minutes | Total: 45 minutes
To make ahead: Marinate pork (Step 2) in the refrigerator, loosely covered, for up to 8 hours.

This pork fajitas recipe with grilled pork tenderloin, onions and peppers gets a sweet-smoky aroma and flavor when topped with chipotle-infused cherry salsa. Manchego cheese, though untraditional for fajitas, pairs nicely.

1 teaspoon plus a pinch of salt, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
Zest of 2 limes
6 teaspoons lime juice, divided
1 1/4 teaspoons ground chipotle pepper (see Tips), divided
1 1/4 pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed
1 medium white onion, thickly sliced crosswise
1 red or green bell pepper, quartered
1 cup chopped pitted sweet or sour fresh cherries (see Tips)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup shredded Manchego or Cheddar cheese
8 6-inch corn tortillas, warmed (see Tips)

1. Preheat grill to medium-high.
2. Mash 1 teaspoon salt and garlic in a small bowl with a mortar and pestle or a spoon until a paste forms. Mix in lime zest, 2 teaspoons lime juice and 1 teaspoon ground chipotle. Rub the paste all over pork.
3. Oil the grill rack (see Tip). Grill the pork, turning occasionally, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part reaches 145°F, 13 to 15 minutes. Grill onion and bell pepper, turning occasionally, until charred and tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the pork to a clean cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes.
4. Combine cherries, cilantro, the remaining 4 teaspoons lime juice, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon chipotle and pinch of salt in a bowl. Finely chop one slice of grilled onion and stir into the salsa.
5. Thinly slice the remaining onion and pepper. Thinly slice the pork. Serve the pork and vegetables with the salsa and cheese on tortillas.

Per serving: 365 calories; 10 g fat (4 g sat, 3 g mono); 107 mg cholesterol; 33 g carbohydrate; 0 g added sugars; 37 g protein; 6 g fiber; 881 mg sodium; 883 mg potassium. Nutrition bonus: Vitamin C (87% daily value), Vitamin A (38% dv), Zinc (27% dv), Potassium (25% dv), Magnesium (23% dv), Calcium (18% dv), Iron (15% dv).

Tip: Chipotle peppers are dried, smoked jalapeños. Look for ground chipotle in the spice section of most supermarkets or online at

Tip: To pit fresh cherries, use a tool made for the job-a hand-held cherry pitter; it also works for olives! Or pry out the pit with the tip of a knife or vegetable peeler.

Tip: To warm corn tortillas, wrap a stack of tortillas in barely damp paper towels; microwave on High for 30 to 45 seconds. Or wrap stacks of 4 tortillas in foil; place in a 375°F oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Wrap tortillas in a clean towel to keep warm.

Tip: Oiling a grill rack before you grill foods helps ensure that the food won't stick. Oil a folded paper towel, hold it with tongs and rub it over the rack. (Do not use cooking spray on a hot grill.) When grilling delicate foods like tofu and fish, it is helpful to coat the food with cooking spray.

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Mangoes are a natural in salsa. Like tomatoes, mangoes are sweet, tart and juicy. They balance the spice of a jalapeño perfectly, cutting through the heat rather than amplifying it. Try out this quick mango salsa as a topper for grilled chicken, pork or mild white fish.

Mango Salsa
Makes: 4 servings, about 1/3 cup each
Active time: 10 minutes | Total: 25 minutes

1 ripe mango, diced (1 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

Combine mango, onion, lime juice, vinegar and cilantro in a medium bowl. Let stand for 15 minutes; stir before serving.

Per serving: 46 calories; 0 g fat (0 g sat, 0 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 12 g carbohydrate; 0 g protein; 1 g fiber; 2 mg sodium; 121 mg potassium.
Nutrition bonus: Vitamin C (35% daily value).

Tip: To cut a mango:
1. Slice both ends off the mango, revealing the long, slender seed inside. Set the fruit upright on a work surface and remove the skin with a sharp knife.
2. With the seed perpendicular to you, slice the fruit from both sides of the seed, yielding two large pieces.
3. Turn the seed parallel to you and slice the two smaller pieces of fruit from each side.
4. Cut the fruit into the desired shape.

Watermelons are thirst-quenching-perfect for eating in the summer heat. This recipe combines diced watermelon with lots of red onion, cilantro and lime juice and makes a refreshingly crunchy and spicy salsa that is delicious with tortilla chips and a margarita.

Watermelon Salsa
Makes: 8 servings, 1/2 cup each
Active time: 20 minutes | Total: 20 minutes
To make ahead: Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day.

3 cups finely diced seedless watermelon (about 2 1/4 pounds with the rind)
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced (see Note)
1/3 cup chopped cilantro (about 1/2 bunch)
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup minced red onion (about 1/2 small)
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Place watermelon, jalapenos, cilantro, lime juice and onion in a medium bowl; stir well to combine. Season with salt. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Per serving: 26 calories; 0 g fat (0 g sat, 0 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 7 g carbohydrate; 1 g protein; 1 g fiber; 75 mg sodium; 122 mg potassium.
Nutrition bonus: Vitamin C (60% daily value).

Ingredient note: The seeds and surrounding membrane are the spiciest part of the chile pepper. To increase the heat of the salsa, use some or all of the seeds, depending on your preference, along with the flesh of the pepper.

Pineapple salsa is a match made in heaven for more flavorful meats-grilled shrimp and lamb and barbecued pork. In this unconventional salsa recipe, pineapple is cooked with dried figs, curry powder and toasted coconut. It is full-bodied and sweet, crunchy and spicy.

Curried Pineapple & Dried Fig Salsa
Makes: About 3 cups
Active time: 15 minutes | Total: 30 minutes
To make ahead: Cover and refrigerate for up to 5 days. To reheat, microwave on High for about 2 minutes or warm in a saucepan over low heat.

1 cup dried whole Mission figs, stemmed (about 6 ounces)
1 teaspoon curry powder
Pinch of crushed red pepper, or to taste
1 1/4 cups water, or as needed
1 3/4 cups diced fresh pineapple or 20-ounce can pineapple chunks in juice (not drained)
3 tablespoons unsweetened coconut chips or shavings (see Note)

1. Combine figs, curry powder, crushed red pepper and water in a medium saucepan. (If using canned pineapple, use the pineapple liquid to cook the figs, adding water if necessary to measure 1 1/4 cups.) Bring to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat until the figs are softened and plumped, 15 to 20 minutes, depending on their dryness. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the figs to a cutting board, leaving the liquid in the pan. When cool enough to handle, cut into quarters and transfer to a medium bowl.
2. Add pineapple to the liquid in the pan. Return to a simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced and the pineapple is well coated, about 5 minutes. Add the pineapple mixture to the figs; stir to combine.
3. Heat a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add coconut and toast, stirring, until golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir the coconut into the fruit. Serve the salsa warm, at room temperature or chilled.

Per 1/2-cup serving: 108 calories; 2 g fat (0 g sat, 0 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 24 g carbohydrate; 1 g protein; 4 g fiber; 5 mg sodium; 251 mg potassium.

Call it what you will, this combination of chopped ripe nectarines with fresh, sweet corn kernels and juicy cherry tomatoes is a winner of a salsa. It would be wonderful tossed with cooked pasta for quick and easy summer salad.

Nectarine, Corn & Tomato Relish
Makes: 6 servings, about 2/3 cup each
Active time: 15 minutes | Total: 15 minutes
To make ahead: Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day.

3 ripe but firm nectarines, chopped
1 cup quartered yellow cherry tomatoes
3/4 cup fresh corn kernels (from about 1 large ear; see Tip) or frozen (thawed)
2 scallions, sliced
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Combine nectarines, tomatoes, corn, scallions, oil, salt and pepper in a medium bowl.

Per serving: 74 calories; 3 g fat (0 g sat, 2 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 12 g carbohydrate; 0 g added sugars; 2 g protein; 2 g fiber; 107 mg sodium; 276 mg potassium.

Tip: To remove corn kernels from the cob, stand an ear of corn on one end and slice the kernels off with a sharp knife. One ear will yield about 1/2 cup kernels.

Tomatillos are small, green fruits that are related to the tomato. They are typically the base for green salsa, a.k.a. salsa verde, which is common in Mexican cooking. You can usually find them in the produce section of the supermarket, still wrapped in their delicate paper skin. Grilling the tomatillos adds a lovely smoky flavor and aroma to this simple salsa.

Tomatillo Salsa
Makes: About 1 1/2 cups
Active time: 20 minutes | Total: 20 minutes
To make ahead: Cover and refrigerate for up to 4 days.

12 ounces fresh tomatillos (about 8), husked, rinsed and dried
2 small serrano chiles or jalapeño peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon lime juice
Pinch of sugar
Salt to taste

1. Preheat grill or broiler.
2. Grill or broil tomatillos, turning occasionally, until softened and blackened in spots, 6 to 8 minutes. Core and halve the tomatillos.
3. Combine the tomatillos, serranos (or jalapeños) and garlic in a food processor or blender; process until smooth. Transfer to a small bowl. Stir in cilantro and lime juice. Season with sugar and salt.

Per tablespoon: 5 calories; 0 g fat (0 g sat, 0 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 1 g carbohydrate; 0 g protein; 0 g fiber; 12 mg sodium; 42 mg potassium.

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