Foodie Sunday: Fruited Salsa, Cinnamon Chips and Fresh herbs for a lazy sort of Sunday!
I love Sundays. I usually get up and go for a trail ride first thing in the morning and then lazily wind my way home happily contemplating an afternoon of gardening , cooking and writing.. Usually in the warm months dinner’s a simple feast of fresh vegetables and maybe a lovely piece of fish and a sausage or two cooked out on the grill. There’s always wine or a lovely icy cocktail and because my herbs are so abundant they’re always sneaking their way into several of the day’s delightful dishes.
I was contemplating this morning what dinner might be and as I checked my email I saw an interesting sounding dish from one of the recipe sites that I subscribe to. Fruited salsa with cinnamon chips…hmmm, now that sounds good! Sadly when I opened up the recipe I was disappointed. White sugar, brown sugar, no seasonal fruit and far too much oil for my liking. That didn’t dampen my enthusiasm for the idea of it though so I set about to make my own version. The result was amazing! My husband who turned his nose up at the sound of it has now eaten half of the bowl!
As I began to cook I was immediately taken back to one of my first vacations to Mexico when I was about 8 years old. We’d traveled all over Mexico City and found ourselves out one day in a very old little city named Cuernavaca. I remember being hungry so we stopped for dinner at a lovely little hotel called Las Mananita’s that had the most elegant walled garden that I had ever seen, complete with regal strolling peacocks and Spanish wrought iron wonderful enough to take your breath away. We ate our meal that evening within the walls of that gorgeous garden and it was there that I tasted my first avocado and I also enjoyed enchiladas made with a mole of pepitas (green pumpkin seeds) tomato and cinnamon. The smell of that mole still stays with me to this day as it was green , spicy and sweet all at once with a touch of something musky. It was still one of the loveliest days of my young life, the sky was a cloudless sea blue and the lilting and sensual tones of a beautiful flamenco guitar permeated the air on occasion, just relaxing everyone close enough to enjoy them. There was hardly any English spoken, but we didn’t care and I truly would have been happy to never leave. It was that special…absolutely paradise.
This fruited salsa is based on my memories of that amazing meal and it is truly a dessert, so don’t let the addition of avocado throw you off. Avocado is after all a fruit and will lend all of the oil and creaminess that this dish could ever need. This dish is easy to make and I’ve lightened it up a bit using ambery agave nectar instead of sugar. You could make a sweet creamy dip for it if you wanted by whisking a bit of sour cream with some crème fraiche and adding just a touch more of the agave. If I’d had some I would have topped the whole thing with freshly shredded toasted coconut. That would make it perfect!
The original recipe called for homemade pita chips with cinnamon ,but there was still too much oil in the recipe for my liking. There’s a perfectly delicious store bought cinnamon sugar chip made by Stacy’s and you can get them at your local Whole Foods, so why waste the time making them when these are even better!
I’ll probably reinvent this dish again in the Autumn when fresh apples, grapes , squashes and pears are abundant and one more thing! Salsa’s were originally created to use as a condiment for cooked meats. To transform this lovely dish from sweet to savory, simply add some freshly chopped red onion, minced garlic , lemon or lime juice and a bit of sea salt to this recipe. You will be delighted when you see just how quickly this fabulous salsa turns into an absolutely appropriate condiment to serve alongside your favorite grilled meats or seafood!
For a generous bowlful of fruited salsa you will need:
1 cup of diced ripe papaya
1 cup of diced ripe mango
4 sliced fresh peaches or nectarines…so ripe that the juice runs down your chin when you are eating them.
1 cup of diced watermelon
1 cup of diced pineapple
1 cup of diced strawberries
1 cup of diced avocado
Juice of one lime
1 cup of sliced kiwi fruit
1 tablespoon of Chinese Five Spice powder
½ cup of agave nectar
1 and a half cups full of fresh herbs (chiffonaded), such as mint, Thai basil and pineapple sage, pineapple mint
½ cup of pepitas (salted and roasted green pumpkin seeds)
For this salsa if you’ve got a ceramic knife, it will be your best friend. The ceramic blade keeps the fruit from turning color and because it’s SO sharp, lends itself to a perfect hand cut dice! The rest of the recipe is very simple. Stir all of the ingredients together gently , place into a fabulous bowl and serve with the cinnamon chips. That’s all you’ll need…Well all you’ll need besides a lovely glass of sangria or two!
So, I’d love to know. What are your favorite cooling summer recipes? It’s warming up quickly here in the northeast…how about where you are?