Salsa By Any Other Name

Typically conjuring up images of a raw, spicy, tomato-based condiment (or a spirited dance step, if you’re more of an active sort), salsa by any other parameters can be somewhat difficult to swallow. Divorced from the traditional fixings entirely, nouveau renditions may rely on unexpected bases such as corn, mango, or even coconut- Not a tomato or jalapeño in sight. Are these oddballs really salsa, or just another cold relish? Where is the line drawn, and where would my latest crazy concoction fall?

Composed of rich, creamy chunks of avocado, contrasted by crunchy cubes of jicama, the departure from traditional salsa is further reinforced by the herbaceous, acidic bite of chimichurri. Bold flavors define this gloriously green amalgamation; peppery, lemony, and vinegary all at once, the cooling vegetable backdrop proves to be an excellent canvas on which to paint the Argentinian marinade. It’s the Swiss army knife of toppings, perfectly suitable as a dip with chips, crowning soups and salads, or an hors d’oeuvre in and of itself. Filling the curved interior of endive leaves, a more elegant summer snack could not be served.

Thankfully, it turns out the “salsa” can be literally translated to “sauce” in Spanish, so it looks like anything goes for this expansive category. Although, I have to wonder how sauce-like my creation here is, considering the chunky texture and lack of liquid… But I suppose that’s a discussion for another day.

Chimichurri Avocado Salsa

1 Clove Garlic
2 Scallions, Roughly Chopped
1 (3-Ounce) Bunch Fresh Parsley
Zest of 1 Lemon
1 Tablespoon Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 Cup Red Wine Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice Juice
1/2 Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
3 Ripe, Firm Avocadoes
1 1/2 Cups Finely Diced Jicama*

*To prepare jicama, first slice it in half, pole to pole. Peel the tough brown exterior away and cut it into 1cm slabs. Dice and toss into acidulated water (1 tablespoon of vinegar in about 3 – 4 cups of water should do the trick) to prevent browning. Rinse, drain, and dry thoroughly before using.

Pull out your food processor and toss in the garlic, scallions, parsley, and lemon zest. Pulse a few times to begin breaking down the herbs, pausing as need to scrape down the sides of the bowl and make sure that everything reaches to blades. With the motor running, stream in the oil, vinegar, and lemon juice, until well-combined. Add in the pepper flakes and salt, and continue processing until the herbs are extremely fine, but not completely smooth.

Peel, pit, and dice the avocados, placing it in a large bowl along with the prepared jicama. Toss it with all of the herb mixture until evenly coated and distributed. Serve immediately, or chill for up to a day to allow the flavors to meld. The avocado may darken slightly when held overnight, so place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the salsa before sealing it in an air-tight container in the fridge to mitigate those effects.

Makes About 3 Cups

Printable Recipe


31 thoughts on “Salsa By Any Other Name

    1. It’s a vegetable, and it’s actually a tuber like a potato, but it can be eaten raw or cooked. If you can’t get your hands on one, you could substitute chopped water chestnuts in this case. :)

  1. It looks really good. I love salsas. But I’ve never seen a Jicama in any of my supermarkets. Does it taste anything like waterchesnuts because I’m not too keen on them?

    1. Jicama really doesn’t have too much flavor to speak of- It contributes more texture than anything. In that sense, it is similar to water chestnuts. If you’d prefer, you could substitute diced cucumbers to contribute the crunchy contrast, but with a slightly different flavor.

  2. Jicama is almost unfindable over here.. And I have never seen fresh water chestnuts in my life (I did see some canned ones in an Asian supermarket though). Too bad, ’cause it looks delicious :-)

  3. I have never seen Jicama which is so upsetting considering how pretty it is. I love this idea though, I only recently discovered Chimichurri and LOVED the flavours. This recipe is a great idea :)

  4. Beautiful! like summer on a leaf. Love the flavor combination! Jicama seems more widely available nowadays, at least in California. Fresh water chestnuts can sometimes be found at the Asian supermarket, they’re a pain to peel though. :-)

  5. Love the presentation, especially the vessel for displaying the food.

    FYI “Salsa” not only means Sauce in Spanish, it covers a wide spectrum. Anything from from a recipe such as yours, a dip, a relish etc etc to your normal sauces and gravies etc.

  6. This sounds fun to eat, creamy avocado and crunchy jicama…I love how you presented :D
    Have a great week Hanna!

  7. Ah, I can just taste the richness and tender bite of the salsa. As someone who doesn’t like cilantro, this parsley variation looks divine, too.

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