Sunday, July 28, 2013

Plum Salsa

Plum Salsa with tortilla chip in red ramekin, overhead view on black

Great as a dip, perfect as a sauce for grilled chicken or fish

Love all the berries and stone fruit that summer brings?  If you’re anything like us, you’ve been making fruit desserts (pies, shortcakes, cobblers, buckles, fools, and more) like there’s no tomorrow. 

But fruit can do more than end a meal with something sweet — it works well in savory dishes, too.  Like today’s easy-to-make Plum Salsa.

Salsa is an excellent dip for chips and raw veggies, of course.  So it’s a natural to serve while you’re outdoors on the patio, waiting for your main course to finish grilling. But it can also dress up your dinner plate.  ”Salsa” means sauce, after all — and this one combines particularly well with chicken or fish.

When you make your own fruit salsa, you can create flavors that you’ll never find in stores.  And once you try this Plum Salsa, you’ll be adapting the recipe to all sorts of fruits.  You may even develop your own signature salsa.  And best of all, you’ll be finding new ways to include healthy fruit in your daily diet.


Plum Salsa in white ramekin with tortilla chips and napkin in background

Recipe:  Plum Salsa

When someone says “salsa,” most of us think tomatoes, picturing something like the Tomato Salsa we made a while back. But you can make salsa from almost any fruit or veggie: tomatillos, dried chilies, corn, mangoes, pineapple, you name it. Stone fruits make particularly tasty salsas — like the Peach Salsa we made a couple years ago. Today’s Plum Salsa is really just a variation on that one.

Diana Kennedy has an excellent chapter on salsas in The Cuisines of Mexico. I borrowed some of her basic ideas for salsa-making when I developed my recipe.

This dish takes about 15 minutes to make.  You can serve it right away, or chill it and serve later (I think it tastes better if you allow the flavors to mingle for about 15 minutes).

The recipe yields 2 to 3 cups.  Leftovers keep well for a few days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Ingredients
  • 1 pound red or purple plums (4 or 5)
  • ~½ red onion, minced (about ½ cup)
  • 1 or 2 jalapeño peppers (to taste)
  • 3 - 4 tablespoons chopped mint (may substitute cilantro or parsley)
  • juice of 1 or 2 limes (to taste)
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • cayenne to taste (optional)
  • sugar to taste (very optional; just enough to tame the spicy flavor, if you find that necessary)
  • sliced jalapeño peppers or mint leaves as garnish (optional)
Procedure
  1. Wash and dry the plums.  Using a knife, cut into the fruit across the equator until the knife reaches the pit; then cut a circle all around the circumference of the plum.  Twisting slightly, you should be able to separate the two plum halves.  If your plums are freestone (see Notes), the pit should pop right out (see Notes for what to do with clingstone plums).  Dice the plums into small cubes of about ¼ inch.  Place in a mixing bowl.  (You can also pulse briefly in the food processor; see Notes).
  2. Peel and mince the red onion (the smaller the dice are, the better — but don’t obsess about mincing too finely).  If you want, you can use a mini food processor.  Add the minced onion to the mixing bowl containing the plums.
  3. Wash the jalapeño pepper(s) and cut off the stem tips.  Then cut the peppers in half lengthwise.  Use a teaspoon to scoop out the ribs and seeds (be careful, the oil on these is hot; keep fingers away from your eyes).  Chop the jalapeño peppers into very small dice (you may want to use a mini food processor; if you go this route, you can dice the peppers and red onion together).  Add the diced jalapeño peppers to the mixing bowl containing the plums and onion.  Then wash your hands with soap and water to remove the hot jalapeño oil from your skin. 
  4. Wash, dry, stem, and finely mince the mint.  Add to the mixing bowl.
  5. Juice the lime(s), and add the juice to the mixing bowl.
  6. In the mixing bowl, toss the plums, onion, jalapeño pepper, mint, and lime juice together.  Then, tasting as you go, add salt, freshly ground pepper, and the optional cayenne pepper until the salsa tastes good to you.
  7. If the salsa seems too spicy, adding some sugar will tone the flavor down.
  8. Although you can serve Plum Salsa immediately, I think it improves if you chill it for 15 minutes or so, allowing the flavors to develop.  When ready to serve, garnish with optional jalapeño slices or mint leaves.
Plum Salsa with Jalapeño Garnish in red ramekin, overhead view on black

Notes
  • How small should you dice the plums (and other ingredients)?  It depends on how you want to use the salsa.  If it’s for dipping chips, I like to dice things fairly fine.  To achieve this, I often pulse the ingredients in the food processor, being careful not to turn everything into mush.  When using a food processor, I often pulse all the ingredients together, rather than dicing them individually. 
  • When I’m serving Plum Salsa as a sauce with fish or meat, I tend to like the ingredients a bit chunkier.  So I usually dice everything by hand (it takes only a few minutes) — although again you can use the food processor if you’re careful not to pulse too long.
  • Plums are drupes, a type of fleshy fruit with a pit (stone). Plums can be either clingstone or freestone. If the flesh separates easily from the pit, it’s a freestone; if the flesh sticks tightly to the pit, it’s a clingstone. Some say the flesh of a clingstone plum is sweeter and juicer than that of a freestone. 
  • It can sometimes be difficult to separate the flesh if the plum is a clingstone.  I usually cut a clingstone plum into wedges (rather than just cutting it in half) and remove the flesh bit by bit.
  • If there’s a way to identify by sight whether a plum is a freestone or a clingstone, I don’t know it.  If it matters to you (it usually doesn’t to me), ask your friendly produce clerk.  Most will know (if they don’t, they generally will cut open a plum to find out).
  • Sugar can mask hot spicy flavors.  So if you put too much cayenne or jalapeño pepper in your Plum Salsa, adding sugar will make it more palatable.  Sugar will also make the salsa sweeter, of course — although I find that if the plums are ripe, the salsa will be more than sweet enough without added sugar.
  • Once you know how to make one salsa, you basically know how to make them all.  The essential salsa elements are a base ingredient (plums in this recipe); an aromatic like onion or shallots; a fresh herb (cilantro, mint, parsley — whatever you think would work); usually a bit of acid to balance the mixture (lime or lemon juice; sometimes vinegar works too); a “ping” ingredient (jalapeño peppers, sometimes ginger or garlic); and salt and pepper to add the final tone to the dish.  Play with flavors you like to develop your own “house” salsa.
Plum Salsa in white ramekin with tortilla chips and napkin in background

Fun for All Ages

“That Plum Salsa was terrific with preprandial tortilla chips,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs as we munched our dinner, “but I think it’s even more sensational with this grilled chicken.”

“It’s a nice combo,” I agreed.  “But I wonder how it would taste with Crab Rangoon.”

“Crab Rangoon?” asked Mrs K R.  “Who’s talking about Crab Rangoon?”

“Well, we will be,” I said. “Not for our next blog post — that’ll be another cocktail in our Summer Sippin’ Series.  But for the one after that.  Because in August it’s going to be all Tiki all the time on the blog!  All our drinks will be Tiki-based, and the food posts will be Tiki-appropriate as well.”

“Cool,” said Mrs K R.  “Tiki speaks to me!”

“For the food ones, I thought we’d put together some dishes inspired by that great appetizer tray they serve in Tiki- and Polynesian-themed restaurants,” I said.  “You know, the Pupu Platter.”

“Sounds delish.  And Crab Rangoon is the Queen of the Pupu Platter!” said Mrs K R excitedly.  “Although I always giggle when I say ‘Pupu Platter!’”

“Me too,” I admitted.  “We’re probably still 12 years old at heart.”

“Yeah, so watch it with those Tiki torches,” said Mrs K R.  “Are you sure you should be playing with fire?”

You may also enjoy reading about:
Tomato Salsa
Peach Salsa
Edamame and Bean Salad
White Bean and Tuna Salad
White Bean and Quinoa Salad
Roast Strawberry Salad
Poached Salmon
Oven Slow-Cooked Spare Ribs
Barbecued Pork Steaks
Jalapeño Coleslaw with Pimentón

116 comments:

  1. I had never thought of plum salsa. Thank you for such a fantastic idea. And have a great Sunday!

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    1. Hi Alex, fruit salsas are so good! And plum makes a particularly nice one. Thanks for the comment.

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  2. Love fruit salsa and my sister has some plums... time to sweet talk her into changing her plans for them!

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    1. Hi Bob, your sister will love this! You, too. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  3. Fruits and vegetable are most welcome on my plate since it's too hot to make anything else. Great recipe!

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  4. Hi Marta, this is a great hot weather dish! And it packs loads of flavor. Thanks for the comment.

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  5. You have definitely excelled with the ingredient list here!

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    1. Hi cquek, it's really a great recipe! Easy, too, which is always nice. Thanks for the comment.

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  6. John this is beautiful. I love the bit of heat in it. I'm not sure this would make it on top of food, I'd probably just eat it with a spoon. Yummy salsa!

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    1. Hi Vicki, isn't it a great looking dish? I love all the colors! And the flavor is fabulous. And it's way, way too easy to eat with a spoon! Thanks for the comment.

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  7. This is a colorful and flavorful salsa. If I make this, I probably will finish it all as a dip before any can go on the grilled meat. :)

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    1. Hi Amy, it's really a nice dish - colorful and tasty. But you're right that it's pretty easy to finish this with chips before you get to the meat! Thanks for the comment.

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  8. OMG,
    This sounds crazy good! Love fruity salsas like that.

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    1. Hi Asmita, crazy good is a pretty good description for this! Really fun to make and eat. Thanks for the comment.

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  9. Thank you for a marvelous new idea for plums , have a couple of plum trees and as you know they are in season here , the touch of heat is perfect ... as we say down here ... now that is the 'Cat's Meow' , thanks for sharing . :)

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    1. Hi Nee, for sure it's the cat's meow! And with plums in season - and your own trees! - you really should give this a try. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  10. I love fruit salsa(or any kind) and this sounds very flavorful. The colors are great too. I can eat this salsa as a salad any time of the day.

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    1. Hi Lail, I haven't actually had this for breakfast but I bet it would work! Thanks for the comment.

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  11. I have never tried fruit salsa. But your plum salsa looks really yummy. I love the colors of the salsa and I bet it goes really well with chips or grilled meats. Yum!

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    1. Hi Dawn, this really goes equally well with chips or grilled meat (or veggies). Really versatile dish! Thanks for the comment.

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  12. Believe it or not, I've never made my own salsa of any kind. This would be a wonderful place to start - I think I'd love it with chicken too. Thanks!

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    1. Hi Beth, making your own salsa is loads of fun! And you can play with the ingredients so - which is much of the fun for me. Thanks for the comment.

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  13. What gorgeous colors. And I love the fresh fruit in it for that sweet-spicy kick. I could put this on just about anything. Yum!

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    1. Hi Carolyn, it's the color as much as the flavor that I find so attractive. Really a fun dish! Thanks for the comment.

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  14. I've made a lot of peach salsas, but I MUST move on to plums! I have a feeling I'd be a happy with just a big bowl of it in front of me with a spoon :)

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    1. Hi Liz, I like peach salsa a lot, but plum really has a lot to recommend it. And I could eat this with a spoon, too! Thanks for the comment.

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  15. What a gorgeous salsa! I happen to have some sweet, juicy plums. I will have to try this. I have a barbecue coming up. I bet this will taste amazing with fish or meat. Thanks!

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    1. Hi Gomo, plums and barbecue are made for each other. ;-) Hope you have a chance to make this, and thanks for the comment.

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  16. such a pleasant burst of flavors, perfectly balanced plums,jalapenos and lime to make an adorable salsa...can have it with many kinds of dishes,looks gorgeous :-)

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    1. Hi Kumar, it's really a delish dish! And the plums work so well with the spicy flavors. Thanks for the comment.

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  17. This is quite a different salsa and I am sure it would be delightful. But I am partial to a nice tomato salsa.

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    1. Hi Suzanne, tomato salsa is quite good stuff and hard to beat. But a nice fruit salsa is a great change of pace, and IMO goes much, much better with grilled foods. Good to have choices! Thanks for the comment.

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  18. I'll give you some of my watermelon salsa if you'll share this. I'm LOVING fruit salsas; next I think I must try something with peach. We could have a trio! Looks great John.

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    1. Hi Barb, we should set up a blogger salsa swap! It'd be loads of fun, and tasty, tasty, tasty! ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  19. I love fruit salsas!! Love the addition of the plum!

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    1. Hi Ashley, aren't fruit salsas fun? Plum is particularly nice. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  20. Divine and refreshing! What a great combination.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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    1. Hi Rosa, it really is divine! Fit for the gods! ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  21. I never think about using fruit in things like salsa, though I did one with mango last year. It was very good. Plum salsa sounds divine. The colours are gorgeous too and I love red onions in anything. Of course, I don't think this salsa would make it to any grilled meat because my son would've finished it off with tortilla chips!

    Nazneen

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    1. Hi Nazneen, I've had mango salsa before but never made one (for some reason) - it's so good! Given your son and his chips, you might want to make a double batch! Thanks for the comment.

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  22. I had no idea! I always thought salsa was something with tomato so this is new to me. Thanks for clarifying this John. Mexican food is so alien here, but I noticed folks enjoy mexican cuisine when served. My husband loves plums too so I bet he would enjoy your salsa completely. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Hi Helene, most salsas that we see are tomato-based, but you can really use almost any fruit (or vegetable) that you want. It's fun to experiment! Thanks for the comment.

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  23. Salsa is great but like you say, I've only ever had it with tomatoes. I'm sure with the lime juice the plums would work brilliantly. I am certainly missing the stone fruit at this time of the year - it's citrus all the way here! xx

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    1. Hi Charlie, we get some citrus at this time of the year (limes and lemons are best), but tons of stone fruit and berries. And it's worth giving this a try sometime - I think you'd like it. Thanks for the comment.

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  24. I've never tried a fruit salsa before - this sounds delish!

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    1. Hi Shashi, it's both delish and easy! My favorite combo. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  25. I have made some peach salsa but your plum variety looks amazing. Can't wait for Tiki-Time!

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    1. Hi Debra, Tiki-Time should be fun! Peach salsa is so nice, but plum is just as nice IMO. Thanks for the comment.

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  26. As soon as I saw the title I envisioned it on grilled chicken or pan seared fish and there it was in the first sentence! Great minds and all. Salsa is so vibrant in the summer -- no cooking, just chip dipping. YUM!

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    1. Hi Judy, this works so well with virtually anything grilled! It's great with chips too, but really shines as a main course sauce. Thanks for the comment.

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  27. Now that's a great looking bowl of salsa! Fruit salsas are my favorite. The only problem is that with a big bowl of chips and salsa like this and I can't quit eating! Great post!

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    1. Hi Bill, chips are so addictive, aren't they? I can't stop eating them either! Thanks for the comment.

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  28. We are kindred spirits, using fruit in savory ways -- love the idea of plums, their sturdiness would really hold up texture-wise. Can’t wait for Tiki month!

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    1. Hi Alanna, you're so right about the sturdiness of plums. And isn't fruit so nice when used as a savory? I love it. Tiki month should be fun - at least I'm having fun with it! Thanks for the comment.

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  29. I'd totally eat that gorgeous salsa even without chips! It looks divine.

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    1. Hi Nik, actually it's pretty good without chips! Just eating a bowlful is a nice option. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  30. Love the idea of adding fruit to salsa, but I'd never thought of plums. Now I can't wait to try it!

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    1. Hi Laura, it's a really fun - and tasty! - recipe. I hope you enjoy. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  31. Plum salsa? Perfect. I like any kind of salsa north or south of the equator! And i can't wait for Tiki month. Great idea!

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    1. Hi Abbe, I think Tiki month is going to be loads of fun. ;-) And I agree - I've never met a salsa I didn't like. Thanks for the comment.

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  32. Replies
    1. Hi Pamela, it really is so summery! Truly good stuff. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  33. John, this is such a great idea! Can't wait till Summer now so I can make it! Thanks.

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    1. Hi Lizzy, it'll be summer for you before you know it, so I hope the wait isn't too long! Thanks for the comment.

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  34. Great post, John! I remember my mind being blown by the idea of mango salsa, so I'm sure I'd love this recipe as well. I bet the tang of plum add even more layers to the flavour...

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    1. Hi Irina, mango makes terrific salsa, but plum has quite a nice taste - well worth trying. Thanks for the comment.

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  35. What a great little salsa! I've never seen plums in a salsa and you make them fit in there like they are a regular ingredient. I've had mango salsa and peach salsa and it was excellent, but never plum. (I need to check out your peach salsa.) I can see eating this not only on chips, but on a burger or with fish tacos. Great recipe John! BTW - Great taste in Mexican cookbooks. I have one of Diane Kennedy's as well.

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    1. Hi MJ, the plums really are tasty in this, and a nice change from mango or peach salsa when it comes to fruit salsas. Doesn't Diane Kennedy write superb cookbooks? My favorite author when it comes to Mexican food. Thanks for the comment.

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  36. How I wish I'd seen this post before I returned home! Along the way, I stopped at a farm to buy tart cherries. They had some beautiful plums but I bought peaches instead. The peaches are good but a plum salsa would be great. This is another fantastic idea and recipe, John. Thanks for sharing it with us. Plum salsa. Who knew?

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    1. Hi John, next time you'll know to buy everything that looks good because you just never know! Gosh, are you back from your vacation already? Welcome home! And thanks for the comment.

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  37. Another brilliant peach recipe! So jealous of all your beautiful summer fruit. It's wintery cold here in Sydney at the moment and I'm missing all the good summer fruit!

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    1. Hi Christine, you'll be having good summer fruit soon enough, and making all of us jealous when we have our winter. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  38. You two and your poo poo platter :) I can't wait for tiki all the time but in the meantime I'm going to try this plum salsa. It sounds wonderful. Looks pretty darn amazing too!

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    1. Hi Maureen, I know I'm going to have a lot of fun with Tiki month, and I hope everyone else does too. This plum salsa is really quite good - definitely worth trying. Thanks for the comment.

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  39. You certainly wouldn't find this in the shops, what a great flavour combination. Love the colours too.

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    1. Hi Caroline, I'm sure someone somewhere produces plum salsa and sells it, but I don't recall that I've ever seen it in a store. And the color is half the appeal of this! Thanks for the comment.

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  40. I agree with you about making salsa with fruit...the sweet and spicy pair so well together.

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    1. Hi Karen, sweet and spicy is such a terrific combo, isn't it? Thanks for the comment.

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  41. Excellent recipe....never thought about adding plum to salsa. It is so refreshing and the comination of sweet and hot lip smacking salsa is wonderful!!! Absolutely loved this recipe.

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    1. Hi Shibi, it's really a fun dish! And a really nice change. Thanks for the comment.

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  42. I know I sound like a broken record, but your photos are just beautiful. Love the vibrant colors in this salsa. I'm headed outside with a glass of wine in my hand right now. If only I had a bowl of your salsa and a bag of chips, happy hour would be perfect.

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    1. Hi Karen, maybe you can make a bowl of this for your next happy hour. ;-) Thanks for your kind words, and comment.

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  43. This plum salsa looks very refreshing, and yes, I like the mint in it...so summery.
    Hope you are enjoying your week John :D

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    1. Hi Juliana, mint works really well in this dish - the more the better! I'm having a great week and hope you're having the same. Thanks for the comment.

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  44. Great fruit salsa, always a big one for mexican food.

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    1. Hi Amrita, it's really a fun dish! Tasty, too. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  45. What a great way to eat this season's stone fruits! Not only does it sound delicious but it looks so very colorful! Thank you for sharing...and for all your sweet comments on my blog...they make my day!

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    1. Hi Monet, the flavor of this is really nice, but IMO the color is even better! So much fun to look at (and gotta get the looking in quickly, because this doesn't last!). Thanks for your kind words, and comment.

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  46. I'm as crazy about summer fruits as you describe in this post, so this salsa
    sounds like a wonderful idea to me.
    Must taste amazing and fresh with grilled meat or fish.

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    1. Hi Daniela, it really does taste amazing! And since you like summer fruits, definitely worth trying sometime. Thanks for the comment.

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  47. Loved this post, John. I have always tried the mango version, but this looks special! My family enjoys plums, except its outer cover. So I will remove that and proceed to make this awesome salsa. I am sure it would have tasted great with Tortilla chips, as Mrs. Riffs said. I would love mine with grilled salmon, so as you said, I will keep my salsa chunkier. Thanks for the tips. Oh, this salsa is making me drool!

    Hope you are having a wonderful week!! :)

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    1. Hi Purabi, mango salsa is really hard to beat, but this is such a nice change - it has a really interesting flavor. I hope you enjoy! Thanks for the comment.

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  48. I have to make this soon. I can see this served alongside a juicy BBQ steak!

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    1. Hi Adrian, this salsa and anything grilled tastes wonderful! Thanks for the comment.

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  49. I don't recall ever having plum salsa...I gotta try this heavenly looking recipe! Thanks so much for posting!
    Shashi @ http://runninsrilankan.com

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    1. Hi Shashi, this is totally work making - wonderful flavor, and so colorful! Thanks for the comment.

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  50. I love plum chutney and this salsa is so so delicious! Must try soon!!

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    1. Hi Kiran, it's really delish - well worth trying. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  51. Oh lord, this looks AWESOME! Plum salsa? Great idea and it's beautiful too. Pinning!

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    1. Hi Anne, this is really good - and tasty! - stuff. An interesting variation on regular salsa, and a fun way to use seasonal fruit. Thanks for the comment.

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  52. I can't wait for summer! I really need to try this, I would eat it in taco's even. Or, maybe on top of a fat juicy steak. However I might just hold out on the jalapenos as I can only take just a little chilli.

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    1. Hi Lizzie, this would be wonderful in tacos! I need to do that, particularly fish tacos. I haven't tried in on steak, but it sounds really good. Jalapenos vary so much in heat intensity it's hard know what to suggest. Most of the heat is in the seeds, not the flesh, but if the heat bothers you, probably a good idea to omit. Thanks for the comment.

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  53. What a unique looking salsa! I bet it's really flavorful an delicious.

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    1. Hi Amy, it's really delish! And pretty to boot - the entire package! Thanks for the comment.

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  54. I always feel plum becomes tastier when it's baked, but I completely forgot about making it into salsa! I can totally imagine how wonderful it is in the salsa. I'd love to try this while fresh plum is around! Your photo literally made my mouth water. YUM!

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    1. Hi Nami, I agree that plum is wonderful baked! Actually might be a bit better flavor when baked than in salsa, but salsa brings other interesting flavors into play. Glad to make your mouth water, and thanks for the comment.

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  55. I love fruit salsas. I think it's the combination of sweet and spicy that makes me happy. They're great by themselves perfect with seafood.

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    1. Hi Kristi, sweet and spicy work so well together, don't they? And I agree that's what fruit salsas are all about. Thanks for the comment.

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  56. Hi John, I love plum. Your plum salsa look so refreshing and inviting. Great combo, the tortillas chips is excellent to go with this salsa.
    Thanks for sharing you recipe.

    Have a great weekend.

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    1. Hi Amelia, plums are great, aren't they? I love them too! And this salsa is a nice change. Thanks for the comment.

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  57. I love how I have been reading so many different variations of salsa. The idea of jalapeno and plums together sounds like a perfect combo! Gorgeous, Take care, Terra

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    1. Hi Terra, isn't this a pretty dish? And loads of flavor, too! Thanks for the comment.

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  58. This is a beautiful salsa, John! I've used different kinds of fruit in salsas before but never plums. Thanks for sharing! I can't wait to make it. The plums are just so juicy and delicious right now. Hope you're enjoying a terrific summer!

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    1. Hi Hannah, plums make an outstanding salsa - worth trying since you like fruit salsas. If nothing else, it's a pleasant change! Thanks for the comment.

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  59. I've made mango salsa and peach salsa but have never thought of using plums. Looks brilliant, and how perfect right now with so many plums at the farmer's market! Just shared this on Pinterest.

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    1. Hi Mary, I used to be a mango and peach salsa sort too, but a few months ago the idea of plum salsa popped into my head. And I couldn't rest until I figured it out! It's really worth trying, IMO. Thanks for the share, and the comment.

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