Here is an easy-to-make, three-ingredient fresh salsa that goes great with a bunch of different dishes, from salads to grilled meats and such!
There are a ton of canned or bottled salsas you can purchase at the grocery store but this one is unique for three reasons. First of all, it does not require cooking, as many home-made salsas do. Secondly, it uses fewer ingredients than Pico de Gallo, another popular fresh salsa (Pico de Gallo is traditionally made from chopped tomato, onion, Serrano peppers, with salt, cumin, lime juice, and cilantro.). Last but not least, the star ingredient for this salsa is an unassuming pepper you probably have seen at the supermarket but haven’t paid much attention to.
And who could blame you? Peppers are a tricky, spicy thing! Who wants to be shopping for ingredients you don’t know how to use.
Cue the drumroll…
Meet Capsicum pubescens
Known locally as manzano pepper for its resemblance to apples (manzanas), this small-ish (1-2 inches long, round) pepper is native to Bolivia and Peru but is grown locally. It is not as readily available in supermarkets as Poblanos, Serranos or Jalapeños, probably because folks don’t know what to do with it or how to incorporate it into their own recipes.
One wonderful thing about manzano is its crisp flavor with a hint of fruitiness, which makes it wonderful for salsas. It can be about twice as hot as Jalapeños but not so spicy that it overwhelms the palate. Last but not least, it can be surprisingly sweet.
Now, the fact that it can be twice as hot as jalapeños doesn’t mean it always is. I find that sometimes I make or order chiles rellenos (stuffed Poblano peppers) at a restaurant and I never quite know how spicy the chile is going to be. This is why it is a good idea to chop it finely when used in this recipe. The last thing you want is to chew on a large piece of unexpectedly spicy pepper while you are eating!
I usually start with two manzanos. I have spotted them at La Comer and also at Walmart. It takes about half a white onion, chopped, to come up with approximately the same amount, but you can easily add more of one ingredient or the other. You want to cut the manzanos apart to remove the seeds. Then, you chop them finely.
As I mentioned early, I usually aim for similar amounts of manzano pepper and onion.
Once chopped, I put the two ingredients in a glass or plastic container. Finally, I add enough freshly-squeezed lime juice to cover the mixture. I combine all three ingredients and throw it in the fridge overnight for the lime juice to cure the ingredients.
One more thing: I did say three ingredients, but I always add a dash of salt to the mix! At this point, every time I need to get something from the fridge, I make it a point to shake the container around for the ingredients to continue to mix well.
What is it good for?
This salsa is awesome for any dish that might ordinarily benefit from a bit of squeezed lime juice: rice, grilled fish or arrachera, quesadillas and so forth.
Last but not least…
If you are not used to handling fresh peppers in the kitchen, it is absolutely essential that you thoroughly wash your hands after you are done cooking. Reaching for your face, mouth or other more intimate body parts without doing so can have memorable consequences!
What will you use this salsa with? Have fun preparing it and let me know how it goes for you in the comment section, below!
Manzano Pepper Salsa
Total time: 10 minutes
Yield: 1 ½ cup
- Two manzano peppers, finely chopped
- ½ white onion, finely chopped
- 4-6 limes, squeezed
- Dash of salt
Combine all ingredients. Store in the fridge overnight for the lime juice to cure the salsa. Use on any dish that would benefit from a bit of squeezed lime juice. Keep in the refrigerator. The salsa stays fresh for a few days. Remember that this salsa can be easily customized to your liking!