Terrific as a dip, even better as a sauce
Fresh, ripe strawberries? We can’t resist. But what to do with all those cartons of luscious berries?
Sweets and desserts are a natural, of course. But strawberries like to go savory once in a while. Especially when they can flaunt a bit of heat, as they do here.
Serve this salsa with tortilla chips as an appetizer. Better yet, pair it with roasted or grilled meat, fish, or fowl. We particularly like to serve it with pork or duck, but it also works well with chicken or salmon.
We always knew strawberries could be saucy. But now they’re really hot.
Recipe: Strawberry-Chipotle Salsa with Jalapeño
May is National Strawberry Month in the US. And right on schedule, we’re starting to see locally grown ones at our market. So we decided to turn some into salsa.
Salsa is most commonly made with tomatoes, of course (as in our own Tomato Salsa). But you can make it with many other fruits or veggies too. In the past, we’ve posted recipes for Peach, Plum, and Chipotle Cherry salsas.
In this strawberry salsa, we add both chipotle and jalapeño peppers for heat and flavor. Chipotles are smoke-dried jalapeños. You’ll usually find them packed in small cans, with a spicy adobo sauce. Most supermarkets shelve them in the Mexican food section.
You can make salsa by chopping all the ingredients finely, then mixing them together. Or you can just combine everything in a mini food processor, then whirl to chop and mix all at once. We use the food-processor method in this recipe, but you can do it all by hand if you prefer.
This dish takes about 15 minutes to prepare. You can serve the salsa right away, or chill it and serve later. We think it tastes better if you allow the flavors to mingle together for at least an hour.
This recipe yields about 2 cups. Leftovers keep well for two or three days if refrigerated in an airtight container (the salsa will be “good” for longer than that, but the flavor will deteriorate.)
- ~1 pound strawberries
- ½ red onion (about ½ cup minced)
- 1 jalapeño pepper (or more, to taste)
- 1 to 2 chipotle peppers (from a can of chipotles in adobo sauce; to taste)
- 1 to 2 teaspoons of adobo sauce (from the chipotle can)
- 2 to 3 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 or 3 pinches of kosher salt (or regular table salt; to taste)
- 3 or 4 grinds of black pepper
- 3 or 4 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped (fresh mint or parsley would also be interesting)
- additional cilantro, jalapeño, or strawberries for garnish (optional)
- Wash and hull the strawberries, them chop them coarsely. Set aside.
- Peel the onion and chop it coarsely. Place the onion pieces in the bowl of a mini (or full- size) food processor.
- Wash the jalapeño pepper(s) and cut off the stem tips. Then cut each pepper 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 coarsely and add it to the food processor. Then wash your hands with soap and water to remove the hot jalapeño oil from your skin.
- Whirl the food processor a few times to mince the onion and jalapeño just a bit.
- Add the strawberries (from Step 1), the chipotle, adobo sauce, balsamic vinegar, salt, and black pepper to the food processor.
- Wash the cilantro, chop it coarsely, and add it to the food processor. Whirl until the salsa is the consistency you like. Don’t over-process, though, or you’ll turn it into mush.
- Taste the salsa and adjust seasoning if necessary. You can serve the salsa immediately, or refrigerate it. We sometimes garnish with chopped cilantro, jalapeño, or strawberries.
- If you aren’t using a food processor to prepare this dish, chop the ingredients into small dice by hand.
- When we’re using this salsa as a sauce with meat, fowl, or fish, we often keep the texture a bit chunkier.
- BTW, try this salsa in a sandwich with pork or chicken. It’s even better if you mix in a bit of barbecue sauce.
- Or use this salsa on your own homemade tacos.
- In the US, canned chipotle chilies tend to be sold in 7-ounce containers. The adobo sauce they’re packed in has a tangy vinegar flavor.
- What to do with the leftover chipotle peppers (you’ll be using only part of the can)? We place the rest of them in a small airtight container and store them in the refrigerator until we have another use for them. They’ll keep for weeks.
- Both chipotles and jalapeños are quite spicy. So adjust to your taste.
- You can add sugar to this salsa to help temper the spiciness if you wish.
- Once you know how to make one salsa, you basically know how to make them all. The essential salsa elements are: a base ingredient (strawberries 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 (balsamic vinegar in this case; lime or lemon juice are more common choices); a “ping” ingredient (chipotle and jalapeño peppers in this case; sometimes ginger or garlic); and usually salt and pepper to add the final tone to the dish. Feel free to play with flavors you like to develop your own “house” salsa.
Strawberry Heat Forever
“Yum, great salsa!” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “That is, I think it’s not too bad.”
“Berry nice,” I said. “The chipotles have a kick.”
“Yup,” said Mrs K R. “They’re canned heat.”
“Are you going all 1960s on me today?” I said.
“Hang loose, man,” said Mrs K R. “No need to freak out.”
“Have to admit this salsa looks psychedelic,” I said. “Amazing what smashing up a few strawberries can do for flavor and color.”
“First there is a berry, then there is no berry, then there is berry salsa,” said Mrs K R.
You may also enjoy reading about:
Chipotle Cherry Salsa
Salsa and Picante Sauce
Chipotle Sweet-Potato Salad
Shrimp in Chipotle Sauce
Tany KC-Style Barbecue Sauce
Or check out the index for more recipes