Mango or Papaya Salsa . $1.31

There is something about a Mango or Papaya Salsa with spicy foods, like my Jerk Chicken – it lends just the right cooling effect. Add a little spice or hot pepper and it turns fiery, itself. Either way:  delicious, easy and cost-effective.

Mango Salsa - such a fun recipe to play with
Mango Salsa – such a fun recipe to play with

Salsas are always a way to sneak in just a little extra vegetable or fruit, and great use of bits and pieces that might be hanging around the fridge. I started seeing recipes for these types of Salsas around 15 years ago…and found that with a bit of fiddling and tasting, they could be adapted to almost any ingredients: everything from apples to watermelon, practically.

There are no hard and fast rules – just put in what you like to eat in combinations that please you and your family. Dice them small, keep them chunky, you’re in the driver’s seat here. Change up the vinegar, add a little olive oil if you like, and consider a sprinkling of any herbs you might think look good. A little of your favorite hot pepper or hot sauce can be great, too. Here’s my favorite version:

Mango or Papaya Salsa, serves 4
  • 1 ripe Mango or Papaya
  • 1/2 cucumber (peeled)
  • 1/4 red pepper
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 2 teaspoons light (white wine or rice wine vinegar)
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice (or lemon)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (if desired)
  • Hot Pepper – your choice, your heat level, optional

Dice all vegetables in 1/2″ or so dice – red onion should be a small dice. Mix dressing ingredients:  vinegar, lime, salt, pepper and sugar. Pour over the rest of ingredients. Best after sitting for at least an hour.

Add finely chopped hot pepper (jalapeno, Habanero, serrano, etc.) if you’d like.

Let’s talk about how to save money/time on this recipe:

  • Use a coupon matching site! One of my favorites in my area is Pocket Your Dollars, but every store has a group of enthusiastic Coupon Matchers. Do not discount the savings! I check their site every week, even if I don’t “need” to go to the store and often find bargains I can’t pass up.
  • Follow my Strategies – You’ll see them all explained on the upper left tab of every page and how I apply them, below.
  • Don’t get discouraged if your prices don’t match mine! Keep shopping at the best prices and your fridge/freezer and pantry will be stocked with sales priced ingredients.
  • Read below for additional tips as well as throughout the recipe, for saving time and managing food.

Strategies Applied:

  • Mango:  Mango does go on sale, and I watch for a price of about 69 cents per mango, less expensive than a per pound price. I often find unadvertised specials in my area, so take a peek at them when you’re meandering through the produce aisle. Cost: 69 cents.
  • Cucumber:  These are on sale about every other week for about 50 cents each. Aldi’s is also a great place to find them for very little. They keep several weeks, so buy them on sale and use them up – the waxy skin on the outside should be scrubbed well if you plan on eating it. I used half, cost 25 cents.
  • Bell Pepper:  There are two types of sales, per pound or per pepper. I usually look for the per pepper pricing; in my area it’s generally cheaper – I’ll then buy the biggest, most gorgeous ones I can find. The peppers are often bagged and sold by a unit price, too. A really good price in our area is about a fifty to seventy cents a pepper for the red, yellow or orange ones, and 40 to 75 cents for the green bell..cost 20 cents.
  • Red Onion:  Red Onions do go on sale now and then, but store really well. I often look for them at Aldis. Even not on sale, a half an onion is about 20 cents. Peel your onions carefully, leaving as many layers intact as possible…most of the healthful nutrients (just like with many vegetables) lie just below the skin. I used part of the onion in the slaw, and priced it there. If I don’t have an immediate use for my onion, I’ll wrap the rest in plastic and place in the door of the fridge where I’ll see it. Cost for 1/4 cup is about 5 cents.
  • Vinegar:  I pick up a jug of white vinegar around Easter – often with a coupon, and often on an unadvertised sale. It keeps forever and is dirt cheap. The better vinegars are often on sale at Easter, and on sale with coupons sporadically through the summer. Many can be picked up at no cost or for just pennies. Stock up because great sales other times of the year are much less likely and vinegar is a component of so many recipes.  Cost nominal
  • Sugar:  Often on sale before any Holiday, especially at Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. I’m not a heavy year round baker, so I try to stock up at these times. You’ll especially see the smaller bags on sale. A good price is $1.49 to $1.69 per pound, on sale, and often with a manufacturer’s coupon or a store coupon. A teaspoon is about 2 cents.
  • Limes:  I use often to add freshness to salsas, Mexican food and marinades from everything from chicken to steak. I rarely see on sale, but they’re generally very inexpensive.  Just like with lemon, I’ll use every bit. See lemon for ideas on how to get more juice. Don’t be concerned about the color of your limes – when you buy, pick up several and choose the heaviest ones. They’ll be the juiciest. They often have a wax on  the skin, so before zesting, go after them with a “scrubbie.”  I used a little lime in my dipping sauce for the Sweet Potato Fries, and part of it for this salad, cost 12 cents.

Left Over?

Drain off liquid, put in blender with a bit of honey and yogurt and make a fun little lassi type smoothie. The cucumber is refreshing, the mango tart and creamy and the red bell pepper ads it’s own nuance, but none of the flavors are too savory to blend and enjoy.


Cal 129.55; cal fr fat 1.91 (1%); tot carb 15.43g; fib 6.63g; sug 2.01g; prot .43g

Put Your own Spin on It:

  • As mentioned above, you can add hot pepper to this or if you don’t have any on hand, a few red pepper flakes.
  • All lime can be used in place of the vinegar, lime zest is a good addition.  Papaya is really good in this salsa, as well.  You can’t go wrong with adding in some pineapple.  Nectarine or Peach works well, too.
  • Depending on what you’re serving, cilantro, green onion, parsley can be added.
  • Olive oil will add richness and carry the flavor.

Kitchen & Cooking Hacks:

If you’ve never cut up a Mango, it’s an odd one, but easy, and I should have taken photos: Hold it up on end. There is a big, flat, fibrous side inside, and the fibrous parts don’t taste that great…let the knive guide you – press down to slice an if there is resistance, turn the mango and move the knife just a bit. You should be able to slice off several chunks attached to the skin, leaving the seed behind.

Lay the skin down, flesh side up, and cut the flesh into squares, just down, but not through the skin. Putting your knife horizontally, “skin” the mango skin off the flesh, much as you would remove skin from a fish…You can see in the photo below that the bits of skin in the jar still show my cuts…

Spa Water:

If I were there while you were making this, I’d be looking over your shoulder and saying, “Are you gonna waste that?” referring to the hulls and seeds. Add that to a pitcher, pour in water, add a tea bag if you wish, and place in your fridge overnight. Strain the next day and enjoy. I call this “spa water.”

Flavored Spa Water
Flavored Spa Water


Recipe made July 2012

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