Certain foods are inextricably linked with game day parties: chicken wings, nachos, chili, guacamole … and salsa.
Bowls and bowls of salsa.
And while you can always pop open a jar, homemade salsa is extremely simple to make. The only skill it requires is a willingness to chop, mince and dice.
Everyone loves a classic tomato-based salsa, but if you want to shake things up a bit, there’s no easier way to liven up your spread than to play with different fruit-based salsas.
If you take a stroll down the salsa aisle in a supermarket, you’ll see firsthand how deep America’s love affair with salsa runs. And while there are dozens of tomato-based choices, you can also find more exotic offerings, many of them fruit-forward. And those can become inspiration for our homemade versions.
Popular salsa variations include peach, mango, pineapple, black bean and corn, avocado, and green tomatillo.
What game day foods does salsa go with? What DOESN’T salsa go with? Clearly, it works well with chips (potato, tortilla, pita and so on). Definitely nachos, tacos, burritos, quesadillas. Ditto an assortment of raw veggies, from carrots to cucumber slices to planks of jicama. A scoop of salsa on a bowl of chili is a terrific contrasting topper. Chicken wings benefit from a dunk in a bright spicy salsa. And a spoonful is excellent atop a burger or slider.
So, let’s wow our friends and make our own. Here are three quick and easy fruit salsas that will elevate game day and still fit right in.
This so, so pretty and colorful salsa is truly refreshing, even with the kick from the jalapenos (and of course the amount of jalapeño can be adjusted as desired). The sweetness of the pineapple is a bright surprising base. If you use two different-colored bell peppers, the salsa gets that much more colorful, but if you use just one pepper of any color that’s absolutely fine, too. Try this with teriyaki beef skewers or pulled pork sandwiches.
In a medium bowl, combine 2 cups ¼-inch diced pineapple, 1/2 cup diced bell pepper (any color or mix of colors), 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped mint, 1 teaspoon minced jalapeno (or more to taste), 1 tablespoon lime juice and salt to taste.
TROPICAL FRUIT SALSA
Besides the usual game-day menu suspects, this is great with fish (think fish tacos) and on top of grilled chicken.
In a medium bowl, combine 1/2 cup finely diced pineapple, 1/2 cup finely diced mango, 1/2 cup finely diced papaya (or additional mango), 1/2 cup finely diced red bell pepper, 1/2 cup finely diced onion, 1 kiwi peeled and finely diced, 1 teaspoon minced jalapeno, 2 teaspoons minced cilantro, the juice of 1 lime, ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes or to taste, pinch cayenne pepper, and salt to taste.
SPICY PEAR SALSA
Also remember this next time you make a roasted pork loin or cook a turkey breast. The pomegranate seeds are optional, but they sure do offer a lot of visual appeal, not to mention crunchy pops of sweet tart flavor. You can use whatever pears you have around, making sure they are ripe but still firm so they hold their shape when diced. Try Bosc, Anjou or Bartlett.
In a medium bowl, combine 2 diced ripe-but-firm pears, a minced 1/2 red onion, a couple of tablespoons pomegranate seeds, 1 teaspoon minced jalapeno, 1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon orange juice, and salt and pepper to taste.
Katie Workman writes regularly about food for The Associated Press. She has written two cookbooks focused on family-friendly cooking, “Dinner Solved!” and “The Mom 100 Cookbook.” She blogs at http://www.themom100.com/about-katie-workman. She can be reached at Katie@themom100.com.
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Katie Workman, The Associated Press