A fresh assortment of salsa ingredients including a Champagne mango and heirloom tomatoes.

It’s finally time to harvest the garden veggies and make salsa! Salsa is nutritious, low fat and super easy to make. Creating your own version of this delicious condiment can be a fun little experiment. Enjoy as a dip with chips or served alongside your favorite Mexican food.

The origins of salsa (which means sauce in Spanish) can be traced as far back as the civilizations of the Aztecs, Mayans and Incas. The Spaniards first recorded encountering salsa in the early 1500s. However, the inhabitants of Central America had been mixing up their favorite salsa dishes for many centuries before that. The Aztecs were one of the first people to domesticate the tomato. Their original sauces were a mix of chiles, tomatoes, squash, and beans, among other indigents. The Aztecs passed these traditions on to later cultures in Central America and eventually the United States.

Here are several types of salsa that you can turn into your own version:

Pico de gallo

Pico de gallo salsa is made with coarsely chopped fresh ingredients. It’s made of mostly tomatoes with some added onion, garlic, jalapeño and cilantro.

Salsa roja

Salsa roja is another tomato-based salsa, but the tomatoes are cooked and then blended with onions, chiles, garlic, cilantro, jalapeño and lime.

Salsa verde

Also known as “green salsa,” it’s made with cooked or pan roasted tomatillos and chiles. They can then be put into a blender along with cilantro, lime juice and onion.

The following recipe is a “Salsa Starter” recipe for Pico de gallo.

Salsa Starter

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • ½ finely chopped jalapeno or other hot pepper of your choice
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
  • 2-3 tablespoons of cilantro

For traditional Pico de gallo, finely chop or put about 4 large tomatoes in a blender then add them to the Salsa Starter. 

Ideas for creating unique Pico de gallo include:

  • Replace the tomatoes with Champagne (Ataulfo) mangoes. They have a sweet, creamy taste and a buttery consistency. Unlike their larger cousins, the red/yellow mangoes, they do not have the fibrous texture or tanginess. Pineapple is really good added in with the Champagne mangoes too.

  • Try other fruit for interesting flavor such as watermelon, peaches, cantaloupe, strawberries, blueberries or apples (mix your favorites together!)

  • Replace the tomatoes with corn or roasted corn

  • Add corn, black beans, cucumbers or avocados to your favorite recipe

  • Try roasting the veggies, fruit, peppers and/or chiles before combining all the ingredients

  • Experiment with different peppers and chiles such as green, red or yellow bell peppers, chipotle, ancho or Anaheim chiles

 Have fun in the kitchen!


Sign up for the weekly thrive newsletter and get local inspiration delivered to your inbox every Monday.

Susan Vander Maas is a graduate of Ohio State University/ATI Wooster. She is co-owner of Doc’s Deli, established in 2007.