Here we are, in the middle of the summer and the gardens are really starting to produce! Whether you pluck fruits and vegetables from your own garden or peruse the local farmer's market for tasty and fresh produce, now is a perfect time to indulge in the bounty of the season. Fresh fruits and vegetables lend themselves easily to salads, side dishes and desserts. But have you ever considered adding them to your menu in the form of summer salsas?
We often think of salsa prepared the traditional way with tomatoes, onions and peppers. Salsa is the Spanish word for "sauce" and often connotes that the dish has a spicy flavor. However, preparing salsas from fruits or vegetables other than tomatoes can add a new zip as a topping for your grilled meats or entrees, or as an alternative to dip with chips or crackers. Summer salsas are also usually low in calories and fat, so that makes them a good addition to most meals. Plus it's one more way to add healthy fruits and vegetables to your diet.
You can make up your own recipe for a summer salsa, depending upon what you have available and what flavors you like. For example, many sweeter fruit salsa recipes have cilantro in them and that's not a flavor combination that I am particularly fond of, so I usually substitute a different fresh herb that tastes better to me. That really is the fun of cooking - adapting recipes and experimenting with new ingredients to give your personal touch to the final product. Following are a couple of recipes that have some interesting combinations that you can try to help get you started:
large, ripe cantaloupe, seeded and peeled
cup diced cucumber, seeded and peeled
cup finely sliced green onions (white and light green parts only)
cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 Tbsp fresh lime juice plus 2 tsp grated lime zest
1 Tbsp fresh orange juice
1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced (adjust to your desired heat)
Chop cantaloupe into very small cubes. Combine with remaining ingredients and chill.
(1/4 cup serving = 14 calories)
Tastes great as an accompaniment to grilled salmon, fish or chicken!
2 kiwis, peeled and diced
2 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, seeded, cored and diced
8 oz fresh raspberries
16 oz fresh strawberries, topped and diced
2 T. white sugar
1 T. brown sugar
3 T. fruit preserves, any flavor
Combine all ingredients and chill.
Tastes great with baked chips or crackers and kids love the sweet taste!
Cheryl Rude is a registered dietitian at Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center. In addition to her column, you can also find nutrition tips and ideas on the blog she writes at www.averastorycenter.org.