Cantaloupe in salsa? Why not? This popular melon adds a welcome surge of sweetness, plus it’s an excellent source of vitamin C and has an exceptional amount of beta carotene, as evidenced by its rich orange flesh. A dash of currant jelly provides more sweetness, while the onion in the recipe adds bite.
Cilantro, prominent in this recipe, is a polarizing herb; people tend to either love it or hate it. There’s some science behind this phenomenon: In addition to pleasant aromatic factors, described by some people as fresh, grassy, and citrusy, cilantro contains aldehyde chemicals, the same as found in soap. People who hate cilantro may detect the unpleasant soapy compounds more than the pleasant ones, or perhaps only the soapy ones. Research in identical twins suggests there may be a genetic basis for this.
Papaya can turn even a humdrum dish into a tropical treat. For the sweetest salsa, make sure to choose a good papaya. The fruit turns from green to yellow-orange as it ripens, so pick one that's at least half yellow (papayas in the market generally aren’t ripe yet). The color change begins at the bottom and progresses toward the stem end. Papayas that are completely green with no tinge of yellow have been picked too soon and may never ripen properly.
A salsa made of peas may sound like someone made a mistake in the kitchen. But hold your judgment until you’ve tried it. High in fiber and folate, split peas are also a good source of plant protein. Mixed with Mexican herbs (there’s that cilantro again) and chopped grape tomatoes, they make for an interesting and surprisingly satisfying salsa.
This salsa packs a punch thanks to the jalapeño peppers. Probably the most familiar of the hot peppers, jalapeños vary in their degree of heat—some may taste like a slightly hot green bell pepper, while others may be quite hot, with a bite that you notice immediately. As a general rule, fresh jalapeños (as in this recipe) tend to be hotter on average than canned. Cooking tip: If you don’t have a grill for the peppers and tomatoes, you can broil them.
If you like variety, you’ll love these mix ‘n’ match salsas. Our easy-to-follow infographic lets you choose one ingredient from each column—sweet fruits, crunchy vegetables, savory ingredients, fresh herbs, and acids. Then mix them together to create your own unique recipe. Experiment with a different one each night for dinner, or create a bunch at once for a “salsa bar” to delight party guests.