Kickin’ Chayote & Melon Salsa

28 Aug

I have a confession to make. Until I set foot in the USA, I had only vaguely heard of salsa. Let alone that I knew what it was supposed to taste like. As a matter of fact, the first time I tried it, was at a grungy roadside diner located across the street from my then office in Rockaway, NJ… Let’s just say that it was an overly sweet, jarred disappointment. It wasn’t until I set foot on California soil that my taste buds were properly courted by the smooth Latin lover that is ‘salsa fresca’.

Mom is an adventurous amateur chef, so it baffles me a wee bit as to why I didn’t really hear about salsa until I came to the USA. Frankly, growing up in Belgium and vacationing frequently in sweet Provence, we were surrounded by juicy tomatoes fresh from the vine every late Spring & Summer. When we moved into our new house in the country, mom even planted a few odd tomato plants against a sunny wall we shared with our neighbor. It so happens to be that those tomato plants set off a royal feud with Mr. Grouch, who never got over the fact that our yard was twice the size of his, and who vehemently claimed that watering our tomato plants caused structural damage to his garage’s wall. He was a royal pain in the you-know-what, and I won’t even go into detail about what happened when my soccer ball went over the fence and landed on his prize-winning dahlias. I don’t think the food blogging world could stomach the horror of such atrocity. But we digress… I think the problem with Flemish salsa may have been that things like limes, fresh cilantro and jalapenos – the latter being imported into Belgium and so by default ‘expensive’ – were either not in our family’s budget or not readily available… or mom didn’t care for them, which is the least likely of all three.

Mom is madly in love with fresh salsa & ‘pico de gallo’. During her weeklong California visits, she single-handedly powers through 2-3 family-size (!) containers of the stuff from the ‘salsa man’ at Torrance farmers market. She even engages in pseudo-English conversation with the man, using partial hand gestures and broken soap opera English. (*) She likes his stuff that much! Yes, the salsa man and my mom share a special bond.
(*) Like the time she walked into a grocery store in Spain, intending to buy cat food for the strays, sans knowledge of any Spanish, and resorted to signaling out “cat food” by pointing into her wide-open gaping mouth and uttering ‘meow meow’ to the unassuming store clerk. Per God’s blessing, I wasn’t present for this linguistic embarrassment.

With a great variety of fresh, flavorful salsas readily available here in Southern California year-round, I’ve never been challenged to come up with my own creation. I also don’t own a food processor, an excuse I’ve used far too many times to justify my salsa laziness. Now that I’m trying to live a little healthier with more ‘whole’ foods and fewer manipulated foods, I’m trying to move away from the jarred stuff which often contains ingredients that sound like they could be Klingon. No offense, Trekkie fans! The fresh tomato kind tends to come in the same boring old flavors, and I wanted to try something new. I can’t wait for my mom to be here in October, so she can then tell me in her dry, ‘matter-of-fact’ teacher voice that the tomato stuff from the salsa man is better. I’m fully prepared to embrace that defeat…!

20130828-192541.jpg

KICKIN’ CHAYOTE & MELON SALSA
(A Hungry Belgian original)
– 1 chayote squash, peeled & diced very small (*)
– 1/4 honey dew or Galia melon, diced very small
– 1/2 red onion, diced very small
– 1 Serrano chili, seeded and chopped very fine
– juice & zest of 1 large lime
– 1 tsp of agave syrup
– 1/2 tsp of ground cumin
– 1/2 bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped
– salt, to taste
(*) If you’re not familiar with chayote, see picture below, you should know that they have a crisp, cool flavor similar to cucumber. The flat, almond-shaped pit inside is edible too, but I remove it for this salsa.

Place all ingredients in a bowl, and gently fold together to combine. Let ‘rest’ in the refrigerator for a few hours, so flavors have time to develop and meld beautifully.

20130828-195742.jpg

7 Responses to “Kickin’ Chayote & Melon Salsa”

  1. Shelley @ Two Healthy Kitchens August 29, 2013 at 6:42 pm #

    Ok, first off – I think I would totally love to hang out with your mom! She sounds hilarious, fun, and like a very, very good eater. My kinda gal! Secondly … this salsa … wow! What a unique flavor combination! So interesting and really gorgeous! Don’t worry about what your mom’s gonna say in her “teacher voice” – this is a great invention! Definitely pinning it now to share with our fans and followers!

    • thehungrybelgian August 29, 2013 at 6:55 pm #

      Thank you for the love, Shelley. I think you’re way cool, like my mom. She’s a no-nonsense type woman but a character… ;-) Glad you enjoyed this post. Now go get those chips!

  2. dianeroark January 18, 2014 at 8:28 am #

    Thanks for stopping and linking this up with Saturday Dishes. I pinned it!
    Have a Super Saturday!
    Blessings,
    Diane Roark

  3. Kerry C January 21, 2014 at 8:03 pm #

    I have never heard of Chayote squash. What is it like? Thanks for sharing at Saturday Dishes and telling me about a squash I’ve never heard of.

    • thehungrybelgian January 21, 2014 at 8:52 pm #

      Hi Kerry, chayote squash sort of looks a bit like a weird pear. Most people peel the outside like a pear, but you don’t have to. It’s pretty mild and neutral in flavor, and holds the middle between cucumber and jicama. It has a crunchy, fresh taste and has a tendency to absorb the flavors of whatever it’s mixed with. It tastes very clean and fresh, truly a bit like cucumber. I’m in Southern California, so we’re spoiled with Latin markets and produce. If you can’t find it in your grocery store, maybe try a Mexican or Latin foods market? Good luck!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Chayote Squash | yum vee - September 13, 2013

    […] chayote squash via thehungrybelgian […]

  2. LF Salsa Fresca | yum vee - September 15, 2013

    […] by thehungrybelgian: using chayote & jicama, cantaloupe, shallots, sweet ruffle pepper & mildly hot black […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 201 other followers

%d bloggers like this: