Wow the senses with salsa

There are a lot of reasons to like summer, not the least being the bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables available. Corn, tomatoes, squash, peppers, melons, berries – and the list goes on. With all these tasty options it’s easy to combine a few to create dishes that exemplify the essence of summer. For me fresh salsa is one of those dishes.

Sure, there is store-bought salsa, which is good, but homemade has a bright flavor all its own. Add to that the color combinations and get ready for your senses to be wowed.

The following recipe collection includes a traditional tomato and cilantro salsa, but with a twist. Just puree some of the tomatoes before adding to the rest of the ingredients to give it a little body. Make the salsa as mild or hot as desired by controlling the number of jalapenos added or by removing the seeds or leaving some, or all, of them in.

For a unique salsa experience, try the watermelon version made with jalapenos, onion, lime juice, cilantro and fresh mint – great for dipping.

Have an abundance of zucchini in the garden? Combine with red onions, tomato, herbs and seasonings for a salsa that’s a delicious complement to any Southwestern barbecue.

And then there’s my favorite, a flavorful combination of grill-roasted fresh corn, red bell pepper and onion added to fresh chopped tomatoes, jalapeno peppers and seasonings. This chunky salsa is another great option for grilled meats and poultry.

Chunky Tomato Salsa

5 Roma tomatoes, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced, or 1/8 tsp. garlic powder

1/8 cup yellow onion, chopped fine

2 to 3 jalapeno peppers, chopped

1 T. lime juice

1 T. red wine vinegar

1/4 tsp. salt

3 T. fresh cilantro, chopped

Cumin to taste (optional)

Directions: In small mixing bowl combine onion, jalapeno, lime juice, red wine vinegar, cilantro, salt and garlic.

Puree 1/3 of tomatoes in blender or processor. By hand, coarsely chop remaining tomatoes. Add all tomatoes to other ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate at least 1 hour to develop flavor.

Watermelon Salsa

4 cups seedless watermelon, chopped

2 T. lime juice

1 T. red onion, finely chopped

1 T. fresh cilantro, minced

1 tsp., or more to taste, fresh mint leaves, chopped

2 tsps. jalapenos, finely chopped

1/8 tsp. salt

Directions: In large bowl, combine all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour before serving. Serve with scoop tortilla chips.

Red Onion – Zucchini Salsa

(A natural for Southwestern barbecues)

3 T. olive oil

1 medium red onion, finely diced

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. freshly ground pepper

2 T. unseasoned rice vinegar

2 small zucchini (about 1/4 pound), cut into 1/4-inch dice

1 Roma tomato, peeled, seeded and finely chopped

2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced

1 T. chopped cilantro

Directions: In large nonreactive skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook 1 minute, stirring. Add oregano, salt, pepper and vinegar. Cook till vinegar boils, about 1 minute. Stir in remaining 2 tablespoons oil and diced zucchini.

Immediately remove from heat and transfer to medium bowl. Let stand 10 minutes. Stir in tomato, jalapeno peppers and cilantro. Let stand 10 minutes. For best color and texture, serve at room temperature within 4 hours of preparing. Makes about 2 cups.

Grilled Corn Salsa

(Good served with grilled pork or chicken)

3 ears fresh corn, husked

1 large sweet onion, cut into 1/2-inch slices

1 red bell pepper, halved

2 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped

2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. ground cumin

1 T. olive oil

1 T. lime juice

Directions: On covered grill, over medium-high heat, grill ears of corn, onion slices and bell pepper halves about 8 to 10 minutes or till tender, turning occasionally.

Cut corn kernels from cobs. Coarsely chop onion and bell pepper. Combine grilled vegetables, tomato and remaining ingredients in large bowl; cover and chill 2 hours or up to 2 days. Makes 5 cups.