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BellaOnline's American Regional Cuisine Editor

Southwestern Relish and Salsa Recipes

If you take a trip to the southwest region of America or visit the local Mexican eateries around your city, you will find that ordering a beef burrito, a carnitas taco or a chicken chimichanga always include extras on the side. Whether it be rice and beans or some kind of fresh salsa or relish. This article includes three fresh, mouthwatering salsa/relish side dishes.

Mango, Tomato and Cucumber Relish, Spicy Black Bean and Corn Salsa and Nopalitos (cactus) Relish are so quick and easy to prepare. They pair well with many dishes, not just tacos or burritos! These salsa/relish recipes use mainly fresh ingredients which are in abundance during the summer months.

Nopalitos are prepared cactus cut into thin strips and they taste very similar to green beans. You can buy these in jars at your grocery store and should find them in the international/ethnic food aisle. These southwestern relish and salsa recipes are a great addition to my carnitas taco night recipe.

Please read my cook's notes and tips at the end of these recipes for serving suggestions and substitutions.

Mango, Tomato and Cucumber Relish


2 small mangoes (or 1 very large one), peeled, 1/2 inch dice
1 1/2 cups cucumber, 1/2 inch dice
2 cups roma tomatoes, deseeded, 1/2 inch dice
4 spring onions, sliced thin, white and light green parts only
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
Juice from 2 limes


Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and stir well. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Spicy Black Bean and Corn Salsa


1 14 oz. can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 large ear of fresh shucked corn (or one 8 oz. can of corn)
3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 small red onion, finely diced
1/4 cup red bell pepper, finely diced
1 jalapeņo chili pepper, deseeded, finely diced
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tsp. adobo sauce
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. kosher salt


Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight, stirring occasionally. This salsa may also be heated through in a saucepan. It makes a nice warm side dish.

Nopalitos Relish


1 cup nopalitos, drained, rinsed, patted dry and chopped
5 roma tomatoes, deseeded and diced
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 cup fresh shucked corn (or frozen, defrosted)
1 small jalapeņo chili pepper, deseeded, finely diced
2 tbsp. Italian balsamic dressing (I use Good Seasons Italian packets)


1. First, in a deep bowl, smash the corn a little with a potato masher to release some of the corn milk.

2. Next, combine all of the ingredients (including the milk from the corn) in a large bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight, stirring occasionally.


Any chili pepper can be substituted in the above recipes if you wish. The mango salsa is a great topping for grilled chicken or fish, as is the spicy black bean and corn salsa. The nopalitos relish is mouthwatering eaten with any type of red meat. All three dishes pair well with any Mexican food.

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