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Happy Cinco de Mayo! Time to dig into this fruity salsa

Recipe: Fresh strawberry-orange salsa with green onions

Fresh strawberries combine with oranges and chilies for a fruity spring salsa

Fresh strawberries combine with oranges and chilies for a fruity spring salsa Debbie Arrington

What would Cinco de Mayo be without salsa? A lot less flavorful.

But this Mexican-inspired celebration falls in early May – long before fresh tomatoes are ripe in Northern California. Instead of basic tomato-based salsa, try this fruity alternative using two spring favorites: Strawberries and oranges.

Combined with fresh green onions (another spring favorite), the berries and citrus add a hint of sweetness along with a juicy crunch.

Versatile as well as colorful, this fruity salsa pairs well with pork, chicken, shrimp or cheese enchiladas, tacos or quesadillas. Also use it to top grilled pork chops or pork tenderloin or dress up a chicken breast.

Or just grab some tortilla chips and dig in.

Strawberry-orange salsa

Makes about 1 cup

Ingredients:

1 orange

½ cup fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped

Salsa ingredients including strawberries and half an orange
Fruit and green onions flavor the spring salsa.

3 tablespoons green onions, chopped

1 tablespoon mild green chilies, diced

1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon red chile flakes

½ teaspoon sugar

¼ teaspoon garlic salt

Instructions:

Cut the orange in half. Peel and chop one half of the orange; reserve the other half.

In a medium bowl, combine chopped orange, strawberries, green onions, chilies and cilantro. Lightly toss.

Into a small bowl, squeeze juice of remaining orange half. To orange juice, add rice vinegar, olive oil, chile flakes, sugar and garlic salt; mix. Add to the fruit-onion mixture. Lightly toss.

Refrigerate, covered, until ready to use.

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Garden Checklist for week of June 23

Get to work in the mornings while it’s still cool.

* Irrigate early in the day; your plants will appreciate it.

* Generally, tomatoes need deep watering two to three times a week, but don't let them dry out completely. That can encourage blossom-end rot.

* Let the grass grow longer. Set the mower blades high to reduce stress on your lawn during summer heat. To cut down on evaporation, water your lawn deeply during the early hours of the morning, between 2 and 8 a.m.

* Tie up vines and stake tall plants such as gladiolus and lilies. That gives their heavy flowers some support.

* Dig and divide crowded bulbs after the tops have died down.

* Feed summer flowers with a slow-release fertilizer.

* Mulch, mulch, mulch! This “blanket” keeps moisture in the soil longer and helps your plants cope during hot weather.

* Avoid pot “hot feet.” Place a 1-inch-thick board under container plants sitting on pavement. This little cushion helps insulate them from radiated heat.

* Thin grapes on the vine for bigger, better clusters later this summer.

* Cut back fruit-bearing canes on berries.

* Feed camellias, azaleas and other acid-loving plants. Mulch to conserve moisture and reduce heat stress.

* Cut back Shasta daisies after flowering to encourage a second bloom in the fall.

* Trim off dead flowers from rose bushes to keep them blooming through the summer. Roses also benefit from deep watering and feeding now. A top dressing of aged compost will keep them happy. It feeds as well as keeps roots moist.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushier plants with many more flowers in September.

* From seed, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, melons, squash and sunflowers.

* Plant basil to go with your tomatoes. 

* Transplant summer annuals such as petunias, marigolds and zinnias.

* It’s also a good time to transplant perennial flowers including astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia, salvia and verbena.

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