MAKES: About 2 cups

TIME: 20 minutes

Citrus juice not just lime, but many others, as you’ll see in the variations make fruit salsas special. They’re sweet and sour, sometimes hot, usually appetizing and exciting. But you must taste while you’re assembling them: balancing the sweetness of the fruits (which, of course, varies each time you buy fruit) with the acidity of the citrus juice and the heat of the chiles is essential.

2 cups firm but ripe papaya, cut into 1/2-inch chunks

1/2 cup diced red onion

1/2 cup diced red, yellow, or green bell pepper or a combination

2 tablespoons minced fresh chile (like jalapeo or Thai), to taste, or hot red pepper flakes or cayenne to taste

1/4 cup or more chopped cilantro fresh leaves

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice, plus more to taste

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put all the ingredients in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Let sit for about 5 minutes, then taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more chile, lime, or salt as needed.

Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to a couple of hours. (Bring back to room temperature before serving.)

Variations

Persimmon Salsa. If you have persimmons, this is a good place for them: Replace the papaya with Fuyu persimmons; omit the peppers and add 2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger. Substitute equal parts chopped fresh basil and mint leaves for the cilantro.

Citrus Salsa. Lovely in winter: Make this salsa just before serving it. Substitute a combination of orange, grapefruit, and lemon segments (see Preparing Citrus) for the papaya. Omit the olive oil.

Peach Melon Tomato Salsa. Perfect in summer: Use 1 medium ripe tomato, 2 medium peaches, and 1/4 small cantaloupe (you should still have about 2 cups of fruit). Use basil or mint instead of cilantro if you like. Proceed with recipe and serve within 30 minutes.

Chipotle-Cherry Salsa. Unusual and wonderful: Replace the papaya with pitted cherries (fresh or frozen); omit the peppers and chile and instead add 1 tablespoon chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce. Serve at room temperature or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

10 Fruits for Salsa

You can use almost any juicy, ripe fruit to make a good salsa. You can even use nonjuicy fruits, like apple or avocado, as long as you increase your oil or citrus to get the consistency you want.

  1. Mango
  2. Pineapple
  3. Watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, Crenshaw, or other melons
  4. Peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums, or other stone fruit
  5. Pomegranate seeds and orange segments
  6. Avocado and orange segments
  7. Seedless grapes, cut in half
  8. Grapefruit segments
  9. Tart apples, like Granny Smith (serve immediately)
  10. Blueberries or blackberries