I recently had the opportunity to do a guest post for Dishfolio and just had to share this recipe with them. It’s one of those tried-and-true recipes that’s been hanging out with me for quite awhile. It’s too good not to share here as well, so…
What’s your favorite food? This question always stumps me. I don’t even think it’s possible to answer. How can you pick just one? Even narrowing it down to a single cuisine is pretty darn impossible. More than anything else, I love variety in my food. Italian one night. Maybe some Thai the next. I do, however, have one recurring, predominant food love. Chips and dip.
Oh how I love thee. And just to be clear, we’re not talking about that peel back container of commercially-packaged self-stable gunk they sell in grocery stores. Fresh, homemade dips, spreads, salsas, and guacamole is where it’s at. That’s the stuff that gets me excited.
I’m pretty much required to make this pineapple habanero salsa at almost every party during the spring and summer. A couple of my friends demand it, threatening to disown me from the circle of trust if I fail to deliver. Just kidding… kind of.
Pineapple and habanero just want to be together. Who doesn’t love fresh pineapple? It’s one of life’s most wonderfully sweet, natural pleasures. And then there’s the habanero. It might look all cutesy and nice…
…just look at the little guy. Aww just look at him. So small and cuddly…
And then bam, it smacks you in the mouth with its fiery bite. But just like any good relationship, it’s all about achieving a good balance. Sweet and spicy love each other.
I know what some of you are thinking right now. And stop it. Stop it right now. No, you cannot go grab a can of pineapple off the shelf. It is not the same.
It’s like when the Mister Softee truck drives by and I run to the door, only to be stopped by Asheley who says that we already have ice cream in the freezer. C’mon, really? It’s not the same!
Breaking down a whole pineapple literally takes 3 minutes, so put that can back (put it back!) and walk your behind to the produce aisle. We’ll do this together.
I used to think that a pineapple is ripe when you can easily remove a leaf from it’s crown. Oh, you too? Apparently they lied to us all these years…
You’ll know a pineapple is ripe by giving it a good long whiff. If it smells like a sweet, delicious pineapple, it’s going to be a sweet, delicious pineapple. It should also be pretty firm and only yield every so slightly to a little squeeze.
If the pineapple is totally green with no hints of a yellow, golden hue, it’s most likely not ripe. Smell it. No smell? Yup, not ripe. And on the opposite end of the spectrum, if the pineapple feels a little squishy or spongy and smells a bit fermented, it’s overripe and has already started deteriorating.
Ready to break this sucker down? Firmly twist the crown and it will pop right off. Lay the pineapple on its side and cut off the top and bottom. Stand it back up and carve away the rind. If a couple brown eyes are staring back at you, don’t worry about it. You’ll go back in a second and ninja-chop them right out as well.
When all is said and done, it should look like this:
If you look in the middle of the pineapple, you’ll see a tiny circle outlined in white. This is the core.
Stand up the pineapple and make four slices around the core, all the way down to the bottom of the fruit. And you’re done. Wasn’t that easy?
You’re only going to need half of this pineapple for the salsa. Slice up the other half into bite-sized pieces and enjoy… and as you eat it, think about how silly it would have been to just open up a can.
Everything else is pretty straight forward. Chop, mince, combine… that sort of thing. The only other suggestion I’m going to throw out there is to wear a plastic glove on the hand that’s handling the habanero chile as you mince it up. I tried to be all macho a couple of times and forego said glove, and oh how it burns. I wasn’t macho for long.
If you don’t have a plastic glove, you can easily rig up a plastic bag or ziploc baggie around your hand that’s holding the habanero like a little mitten.
Just like any salsa, dip, or awkward party where you don’t know anyone else in the room, it takes time for all the different flavors to introduce themselves to each other and meld.
Give the salsa about an hour in the fridge and before serving, stir to redistribute all the juices that pooled at the bottom of the bowl.
Oh, and listen. In a second you’re going to scroll down and see the recipe… it’s going to say a lot of 1/2 of this and 1/2 of that. Sorry about that. You can double the recipe if you want so you can use a whole pineapple, onion, and pepper, but it will make a gigantic amount of salsa.
But most likely, you’re serving this up for some sort of party anyway, so I’m sure a half of onion and pepper will be put to good use… maybe, for let’s say, these Southwest Wontons? (see what I did there? see?)
Salty tortilla chips are all you need to enjoy this salsa gem, but it’s also great as a topping for tacos and grilled chicken or fish. Just saying…
- ½ ripe pineapple, finely chopped
- ½ small red onion, minced
- ½ poblano chile, minced
- ½ red bell pepper, minced
- 1 habanero chile (scotch bonnet), seeded and very finely minced*
- 1 lime, juiced**
- ½ tablespoon packed light brown sugar
- Handful cilantro leaves, chopped
- Pinch Kosher salt
- *I highly recommend wearing a plastic glove on the hand that holds the habanero while mincing. In a pinch you can also just use a plastic or ziploc bag as a makeshift “mitten”.
- **to maximize juice from your lime, roll it back and forth on the counter under the heel of your hand using medium pressure.
- Combine all ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Allow the flavors of the salsa to meld for at least 30 minutes, although an hour or two is optimal. You can also make the salsa a day ahead, covering and storing in the refrigerator. Before serving, stir your salsa to redistribute the juices that have pooled at the bottom of the bowl.
- Refrigerated salsa will last for several days. And this salsa isn’t just for that big bowl of salty tortilla chips. Try using it as a topping for tacos or grilled chicken and fish!