Bear Makes Brunch: Salsa Duet

When I was a first-year, I had a lot of fun joining the ballroom dance club and learning to salsa dance. Between the twirls, lifts, and dips, I found a way to enjoy my first few months at Columbia, even amidst all the crazy happenstances re: dining hall fiasco. While I rarely get a chance to dance anymore, I still have time for salsa dips of a different variety—the completely-unrelated-do-it-yourself-with-a-blender variety, and the results are arguably just as exciting.

Salsa is a dance for two partners, so we have made two different varieties of salsa here: a traditional salsa verde and a more modern mango salsa.

Salsa Verde:
Salsa verde, or “green sauce,” can be prepared in a number of different ways, and can be cooked or uncooked. Our version is a simple, raw salsa verde, using just a few ingredients:

5-6 tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and coarsely chopped
2 jalapeño peppers, rinsed and coarsely chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
A handful of chopped cilantro
Lime juice from half a small lime

salsa verde (ingredients)

Put all the ingredients in a blender, and blend until the salsa is smooth enough in which to dip chips, but not fully puréed. If there is not enough liquid in the blender to start the chopping process, add a little more lime juice. The chunks should be roughly the same size as the pepper seeds, for presentation and balance of taste. Depending on how spicy you can handle, serve the salsa at room temperature; otherwise, chilled will keep it from being too spicy for guests.

salsa verde

Mango Salsa:
Mango salsa has become increasingly popular in modern cuisine, and our version is modeled after the classic pico de gallo. Mangos are a tropical fruit, found in abundance in Southeast Asia, so it is perhaps unexpected to pair it with a traditionally Mexican sauce. Both regions incorporate spicy foods into their cuisines, so it is fun to create an international combination that is creative and delicious. The ingredients are as follows:

2 ripe mangoes, peeled and finely chopped
2 Roma tomatoes, rinsed and finely chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, rinsed and finely chopped
2 serrano peppers, rinsed and finely chopped
A handful of chopped cilantro
Lime juice from half a small lime

mango salsa (ingredients)

Simply combine all the ingredients, stirring in a bowl until mixed very well. This salsa is chunkier, and is more of a topping for tacos and rice. However, if served with the salsa verde, it can also be enjoyed with chips, but we would recommend chopping everything into consistently small pieces so it can be easier to scoop. This salsa is not made in the blender, because the sharp contrast of flavors, rather than a smooth mixture, is what gives the mango salsa its surprising edge.

mango salsa

Salsa is simple and easy to make, and requires very little cooking at all! Best of all, salsa is naturally allergy-friendly, unless, of course, paired with cheese or some such evil condiment. Even if you don’t have a blender, you can simply spend more time chopping your ingredients and the result will be a chunkier, but equally delicious version. Feel free to get creative and add more ingredients, such as avocado or red onions, to create variety and spice up your meals! (See what we did there?)

Salsa dancing is creative, fluid, and hot, hot, hot! And your salsa recipes should be so as well, particularly if you’re sharing with friends and family. Today happens to be Cinco de Mayo, a holiday celebrating the Mexican victory over the French occupation, and also the vibrancy of Mexican and Mexican-American culture. Whether you are cooking for your family at home, or attending a Cinco de Mayo celebration, make sure you bring your favorite salsas with you. And after the chips are gone and everyone has had their fill of snacking, show us to the dance floor!