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Summer salsas:  Corn, cucumber, radish and  pineapple and onion.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Summer salsas: Corn, cucumber, radish and pineapple and onion. Photo Store

Whether it is the dance or the sauce, both conjure up images of languid summer days and starry, lazy nights with a suitable drink in hand, somewhere closer to the equator.

The word salsa is Spanish for sauce, which itself derives from the Latin, salsa -- meaning salty. There are many types of salsa that vary throughout Latin America.

Pica di Gallo, rooster's beak, is a Mexican salsa made with raw tomatoes, lime juice, chili peppers, onions, cilantro leaves and other coarsely chopped raw ingredients.

Mole is made from chili peppers mixed with spices, unsweetened chocolate and almonds.

In Argentina and Uruguay, chimichurri is a spicy vinegar-parsley sauce that is the salsa served with grilled meat. It is made of chopped fresh parsley and onion, seasoned with garlic, oregano, salt, cayenne and black pepper and bound with oil and vinegar.

Typically made in a pestle and mortar (a food processor does the job), most salsas can be used as a dip for pretty much anything or served chunky as a side dish or topping for burgers and tacos.

Remember, salsa is a fresh sauce and should be refrigerated and served as soon as possible. Oh yes, do be careful when working with hot peppers, don't be rubbing and touching your eyes after that -- use rubber gloves and discard after use.

Here are a few tantalizing examples:

Roasted Corn Salsa

4 ears fresh corn, husks and silks removed

30 ml (2 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted

5 ripe tomatoes, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice

1/2 small red onion, peeled and finely chopped

1 small jalapeno pepper, seeds and ribs removed, finely chopped

1 small clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped

120 ml (1/2 cup) coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves

45 ml (3 tbsp) freshly squeezed lime juice, plus more to taste

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions

1. Heat a grill or broiler to medium hot. Brush corn with melted butter, and place on grill or under broiler, turning often, until about half the kernels are brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove corn from heat, and let cool. Using a sharp knife, cut kernels from cobs.

2. Combine corn kernels, tomatoes, onion, jalapeno, garlic, and cilantro in a medium bowl. Season to taste with lime juice, salt, and pepper. Serve.

Cucumber and Mint Salsa

1 large English cucumber

45 ml (3 tbsp) white wine vinegar

30 ml (2 tbsp) sugar

120 ml (1/2 cup) chopped fresh mint

1 chili, finely chopped

Mix all ingredients together, season to taste.

Pickled Radish Salsa

1 bunch radishes, approx. 10 small

200 ml (3/4 cup) white balsamic vinegar

1 chili, finely chopped

30 ml (2 tbsp) brown sugar

2 cloves garlic, chopped

Cut the radishes into thin slices.

Bring the rest of the ingredients to a boil in a small saucepan.

Pour hot liquid over radishes and leave to cool.

Serve chilled.

Pineapple Salsa

1 pineapple peeled and cut into small cubes

1 red onion chopped finely

2 cloves of garlic

1 chili, chopped finely

1 lemon, juice and grated rind

Mix all ingredients together, season to taste.

Fresh Tomato Salsa

45 ml (3 tbsp) finely chopped onion

2 small cloves garlic, minced

3 large ripe tomatoes, peeled and seeds removed, chopped

2 hot chili peppers, serrano or jalapeno, finely chopped

30-45 ml (2-3 tbsp) minced cilantro

20-30 ml (11/2-2 tbsp) lime juice

salt and pepper

Put chopped onion and garlic in a strainer; pour 500 ml (2 cups) boiling water over them, then drain thoroughly. Discard water. Cool.

Combine onions and garlic with chopped tomatoes, peppers, cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper. Refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours to blend flavours.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 3, 2013 D16

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