One good thing about summertime outdoor cooking is that you don't have to do anything elaborate to chicken, pork, fin fish, shrimp, etc. Season them a little and throw them on grill and have that protein source ready for supper in no time.

Which leaves you free to fix a few side dishes, including some salsas (sauce) to enhance the protein without "enhancing" the caloric intake, at least not by much.

Our exercise du jour, then, is to prepare salsas using the freshest local herbs, vegetables and fruits from our nearby farmers market or a favorite grocery that features (relatively) local produce from neighboring states. Some of the salsas we offer here can be purchased in gourmet food stores or mega-supermarkets, but keep in mind that when you fix your own, you have control over what goes into the concoction, including sodium and sugar. Keep in mind, too, that these recipes are as non-elaborate as the simple fare that's cooking on the grill. Isn't that nice?

Chunky salsa


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This is a very simple recipe for a Tex-Mex basic. Ripe tomatoes and fresh cilantro are key. You can adjust the heat by using hot or mild jalapenos. Additionally, to lower the heat, be sure to remove the seeds and pith from both fresh jalapenos and the chipotle peppers. With the chipotle, which impart a little bit of smoky background flavor, you can also use paper towels to wipe off most of the red sauce in which they're canned.

1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes (don't have to peel), cored, halved, then coarsely chopped

1/4 cup firmly packed fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped, fresh flat-leaf parsley

4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons lime juice

1 large jalapeno pepper, stem, pith and seeds removed, finely chopped

1 teaspoon finely chopped canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, wiped gently of sauce, any pith and seeds removed, optional

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour to marry flavors. Makes about 8 servings.

Mango salsa

This fresh salsa should be made the night before so flavors can meld. The combination is lovely with grilled fin fish or shrimp. Since it has a semi-tropical air, choose your side dishes accordingly.

2 medium perfectly ripe mangos, peeled, seeded, chopped

1 cup chopped grape tomatoes (red and yellow ones are a nice combination)

3/4 cup finely chopped red onion

2 tablespoons chopped, fresh flat-leaf parsley

Combine ingredients in a bowl. Taste for pepper and salt. Cover and chill overnight. Makes about 8 servings.