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Versatile salsas can spice up your summer

Registered dietitian Becky Varner shares recipes for versatile summer salsas.
By Becky Varner Published: June 18, 2014

Salsa is a celebration of chile peppers. There are many varieties of chiles, ranging from sweet and mild to fiery hot. Traditional salsas are made with tomatoes, onions and chiles, but today many combinations of fruits and vegetables are used as the foundation for salsas.

Salsas add flavor, color and nutrients to the simplest dishes. Generally, they are low in calories and fat, easy to prepare, and have ingredients that can range from common to exotic.

The uses and flavors of salsas are limited only by the imagination. They are fabulous to complement meals, serve as snacks or use as garnishes, and they are especially refreshing in the warm weather of summertime. Plus, adding a salsa is a great way to increase fruit and vegetable intake.

Chiles come in many shapes, sizes and degrees of heat or sweetness. Generally, the more mature a chile the more intense its flavor, whether sweet or spicy.

Select peppers that are well-shaped, firm and heavy for their size with shiny, smooth and unblemished skin. The skin should also be taut and unwrinkled, and the stems green and fresh-looking.

Store peppers wrapped loosely in paper towels in the refrigerator. Do not store in plastic bags, because trapped moisture can hasten spoilage.

The most common chiles for salsas are jalapenos and serranos. Jalapenos are medium-size peppers, measuring about two to three inches in length and tapering to a rounded end. Jalapenos are most often eaten at the mature green stage but are also eaten at the fully ripe red stage. They do not need to be peeled. They are also great for pickling.

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Watermelon Fire and Ice Salsa

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons chopped green onion

11/2 tablespoons chopped fresh jalapeno

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup 1/2-inch diced green bell pepper

3 cups 1/2-inch diced seedless watermelon

Combine lime juice, cilantro, green onion, jalapenos and salt in a small glass bowl and stir to mix. Add bell pepper and watermelon and stir gently. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Nutrition: This recipe makes 6 servings. Each serving contains about 30 calories, 0.6 gram protein, 0.4 gram fat, 7 grams carbohydrates, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 98 milligrams sodium and .25 grams dietary fiber.

Mango and

Corn Salsa

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1/2 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 tablespoon chopped jalapeno

1 cup 1/2-inch diced mango

1 cup no-salt-added canned corn, drained

1/2 cup 1/4-inch diced red bell pepper

2 tablespoons chopped green onion

Combine lime juice, cilantro, olive oil and jalapeno in a small bowl and stir to mix. Add mango, corn, bell pepper and green onion and stir gently. Cover and chill.

Nutrition: This recipe makes 4 servings. Each serving contains about 90 calories, 1 gram protein, 2.6 grams fat, 14 grams carbohydrates, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 3 milligrams sodium and 2 grams dietary fiber.

Avocado and Fresh Tomato Salsa

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

1/8 teaspoon black


1/8 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 medium avocado, peeled, seeded and diced in 1/2-inch pieces

2 cups diced fresh

tomatoes, 1/2-inch pieces

Combine lime juice, black pepper, salt and garlic in a medium glass bowl and stir to mix. Add diced avocado and tomato. Gently fold to combine. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Nutrition: This recipe makes 10 servings. Each 1/4-cup serving of salsa contains about 43 calories, 1 gram protein, 3.1 grams fat, 4 grams carbohydrates, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 35 milligrams sodium and 1 gram dietary fiber.

Source: Becky Varner

Cooking class

Becky Varner will teach a healthy cooking class featuring Chicken Taco Wraps and Southwest Corn Salad at noon Tuesday in the Buy For Less Gourmet Grille at 2500 N Pennsylvania Ave. Class size is limited. Call 302-6273, ext. 332, for reservations.


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