It's warming up and that has me thinking about more parties. But not the kind of parties that take a lot of planning and work. More like the kind of party where a friend texts "what are you doing?" and I can respond with "nothing — why don't you come over?"

These are the exact occasions for which I keep a bag of tortilla chips in my cupboard at all times. Often I buy a jar of salsa at the grocery store so that I have one in my pantry, "just in case." That just in case may mean friends have stopped by, but it could also come in hand when last night's chicken is a little dry and needs some reviving or I want to make tortilla soup, one of the great, easy soups that is high on flavor and low on preparation.


But jarred salsa is often inferior to a homemade salsa, in the same way that canned tomatoes have their place, but you don't use them in fresh dishes like mozzarella caprese. This week I found three salsa recipes that I thought would help "spice" things up in your dip and chip repertoire, whether you like your salsa caliente or not.

First up, a mango and strawberry salsa. This one is super fruity, with no tomatoes, and the heat comes from jalapenos. Cucumber and onions provide some mild background flavors to it, as well as some nice crunch, and lime juice gives it some fresh acidity. It's very colorful, and tasty too.

Next, I was interested in this pineapple salsa, which is also fruity, but this one does have tomatoes in it, as well as red onions, bell peppers and jalapeno peppers. Cilantro, a common herb in Mexican cooking, is used in this recipe, but so is ginger, which goes well with pineapple but I've never seen in salsa otherwise. Fresh ginger can have a different kind of "heat" to it, so I think this is going to be a more adventurous pineapple salsa than you might see at the grocery store.

And for my third salsa, I chose this tomato-based salsa that gets its richness of flavor from roasting the tomatoes. I've made salsa with roasted grape tomatoes before and I loved the way it turns out, but this recipe uses large tomatoes, which is nice because then you get less tomato skins in there. This recipe tells you to seed the tomatoes, but I've never bothered with that, so I would say that's your call. This recipe also has cilantro and lime, but rather than using fresh hot peppers, you use chipotle pepper powder and Louisiana hot sauce for the heat. I haven't tried it yet but I'm always looking for new ways to experiment with spice and heat.

So buy yourself a big bag of tortilla chips and try one of these salsas out at your next party, whether it is for two or twenty.


Mango and strawberry salsa

2 ripe sweet mangoes

1 cucumber

5-6 strawberries

1/2 cup finely chopped onions

1/4 cup red bell pepper

1-2 jalapenos

Lime juice, as required

Black pepper, for seasoning


Salt, as required

Scoop out mango pieces. Cut cucumber, strawberries as per the desired size.

Use finely chopped onions. Cut Jalapenos lengthwise, and scoop put the seeds. Cut into a fine dice.

Mix everything in bowl, add lime juice, season with salt and mix everything well.

Serve with the crunchy pita chips,/tacos or tortillas or as desired. If making ahead of serving time, add salt at the time of serving.

Pineapple salsa

3 cups pineapple, diced into small pieces

1/3 cup tomatoes, diced into small pieces

1/3 cup red onions finely chopped

1 cup bell peppers, with variety of red, orange, yellow, green peppers

1 jalapeno, deseeded and finely chopped

1/3 cup cilantro chopped

Salt to taste

Pepper to taste

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon ginger powder

2 tablespoons lemon juice or lime juice

In a large mixing bowl, add pineapples, onions, peppers, jalapenos, cilantro, salt, pepper, garlic, ginger, lemon juice. Mix everything together.

Cover and chill in the fridge for 20-30 minutes to let the flavors deepen. Leftovers can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 2 days.

Roasted tomato salsa

6 large tomatoes, halved and seeded, divided

1 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, trimmed

1/8 cup lime juice

2 garlic cloves, peeled

1 teaspoons grated lime zest

1 large sweet yellow pepper, finely chopped

6 green onions, thinly sliced

1/2 tablespoon ground cumin

1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika

1/2 tablespoon ground chipotle pepper

1 teaspoons salt

1/8 teaspoon Louisiana-style hot sauce

Tortilla chips, for serving

Peel and seed the tomatoes. Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray. Place 3 tomatoes cut side down on the baking sheet.

Broil on high about 4 inches away from the heat for 4-5 minutes. Tomatoes should be blistered but not burnt.

Allow the tomatoes to cool slightly and drain. In a blender or food processor, blend the uncooked and roasted tomatoes together in batches until chunky. Set aside.

Add the cilantro, lime juice, lime zest, and 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil into the food processor. Process until blended. Add to the tomato mixture.

Stir in the chopped peppers, green onions, cumin, smoked paprika, chipotle, salt, pepper, and hot sauce. Mix well.

Refrigerate for one hour (or longer). Serve with tortilla chips.