06 June 2013

Sweet Strawberry Salsa


Strawberry Salsa

Following  Recipes?

Sometimes I just can’t follow a recipe to save my life. Last weekend, inspired by a beautiful picture from Kitchen Parade I had pinned to a board at Pinterest, I set out to make Alanna’s Strawberry Salsa.  I bought the ingredients I needed: a box of strawberries that smelled heavenly, kiwis, a lime.

Back home I went out to cut a few sprigs from the chocolate mint plant thriving just outside my back door. There, before I even got started, I began to get side-tracked. I noticed the cinnamon basil growing nearby.  I planted it this spring because it was pretty and sounded unusual but I never really know what to do with it. I pulled a leaf and crushed it between my fingers breathing in the scent. It did smell like cinnamon and cinnamon was in Alanna’s recipe. I cut a few sprigs and added them to my small bundle of mint.

Inside, I sliced the strawberries.  As I reached for the apple I noticed some jicama that was left over from another recipe and decided to use it instead. It added its own agreeable note of crunch.  Then I threw in some finely chopped fresh pineapple that hadn’t fit into a fruit salad I made earlier for brunch.

Remembering the discovery from a few seasons ago that balsamic vinegar is delightful with strawberries, I decided to substitute it for the lime juice in the recipe and stir in a little brown sugar for sweetness. Mixing things together I made a last minute decision to dial up the spicy notes of mint and basil with a pinch of fresh minced ginger.


Strawberry Salsa Ingredients

The Benefit of Circumstance

Sometimes I think those kitchen improvisations are for the best.  Salsas, like salads, often benefit when they are embellished with a little of this, a little of that, whatever you have on hand that tastes wonderful and makes an interesting combination. Better that than following the recipe to a tee without taking circumstances into account as I did for the Cantaloupe Salsa I also had on the menu.

I found cantaloupe at the market, precut in a plastic container.  Trusting that it wouldn’t be cut if it wasn’t ripe I took it home.  After chopping it I found it had no more taste than the jicama and far less of an interesting texture. Lesson: don’t use any fruit in a fruit salsa if it isn’t wonderfully ripe.  It might look pretty but it won’t taste good.  The sweetness is necessary to balance the spice and to allow the flavors to meld properly.  That Cantaloupe Salsa is gorgeous but it still tastes like onions and feels like hot peppers without any of the sweet appeal that is intended.

The Strawberry Salsa, on the other hand, was fragrant, tart-sweet, and just a little spicy.  Good strawberries made a good salsa and allowed for a creative revelation of ingredients. Had I followed Alanna’s recipe more closely I’m sure it would have been delicious but adapting it to the realities of my own kitchen at that moment made it my own Sweet Strawberry Salsa. Maybe those kiwis that I forgot all about adding at the end will even inspire another recipe adaptation next time I'm in the kitchen.


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Note: If you enjoy reading about the experiences of Uncle Hal and other folks from the early 20th century, be sure to read Alanna’s sweet post where she introduces us to Strawberry Bill.   


Strawberry Salsa, Blueberry Salsa, Cantaloupe Salsa
Blueberry Salsa, Cantaloupe Salsa and Sweet Strawberry Salsa

Sweet Strawberry Salsa
Inspired by Alanna's Strawberry Salsa with Cinnamon-Sweet Baked Tortilla Chips at www.KitchenParade.com

1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1½ cups strawberries, diced
½ cup jicama, cut in fine matchsticks or diced
½ cup pineapple, diced
1 Tablespoon cinnamon basil, chopped
1 Tablespoon chocolate mint, chopped
¼ - ½ teaspoon fresh ginger, minced

In a small bowl or cup, stir together the balsamic vinegar and brown sugar until sugar is dissolved.

Combine the remaining ingredients.  Pour the vinegar-sugar mixture over all and gently toss to coat.

Place in the refrigerator until ready to serve, allowing at least 20 minutes or so for the flavors to meld.

Serve with Baked Cinnamon Tortilla Chips (recipe beow) or other chips of your choice.

Strawberry Salsa with Cinnamon Tortilla Chips

Baked Cinnamon Tortilla Chips

6-8 small flour tortillas
Nonstick cooking spray
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375F.

In a small bowl or cup, stir together the sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.

Using a pizza cutter, if you have one, or a knife, cut the tortillas into 8 wedges each. 

Place a wire cooling rack on a large baking sheet.   Arrange the tortilla wedges on top of the rack in a single layer. (Not all chips will fit at one time.  I baked two pans full.)

Once arranged as efficiently as possible, spray the tortilla wedges lightly with non-stick cooking spray. 

Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the tortilla wedges as evenly as possible. (Remember to save some for the second pan of chips.)

Bake at 375F for 12- 15 minutes, or until lightly brown and crispy.

Enjoy!

3 comments:

www.carolynsmithdesigns.com said...

The pictures are amazing, as always! I'm going to give these recipes a whirl. It all looks yummy!

Alanna Kellogg said...

Ooo, pineapple? and jicama?? with a touch of cinnamon??? It's taking on a "Mexican Fruit Salad" take. I love how we go back and forth with recipes, inspired but doing our own thing! : - )

grace said...

this sounds like an outstanding salsa, lisa--nicely done! my mom is growing some chocolate mint in her garden and i'm excited to try it...if she'll part with any! :)