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Entertaining during the great British summer is fraught with uncertainty. Some people go in to meteorological denial, doggedly planning a barbecue; others assume the worst and cook up a hearty hotpot.
Certain dishes however, can make a summer supper feel festive whatever the weather. Top of my list are salsas. Fresh and vibrant, they intrinsically conjure up visions of perfumed haciendas or beachside cafes. You can serve salsas with a basket of warm tortilla chips as a pre-prandial nibble, but alongside grilled or barbecued chicken or fish, they never fail to add pizzazz to a summer supper party. A pitcher of sangria or some margaritas wouldn’t hurt, either.
Piquant Pineapple Salsa
This can be made in minutes.
Serves 6-8. Keeps up to 2 days in the refrigerator. Do not freeze.
Half a fresh pineapple, peeled and cored
Juice of half a fresh lime (1 tbsp)
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 rounded tsp grated ginger
1 small red chilli, seeded and thinly sliced (optional)
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tbsp chopped fresh mint or coriander leaves
-Chop the pineapple flesh into bite-sized pieces.
-Mix gently with the other ingredients.
-Check the seasoning — you can add a dash more lime juice or sugar to taste depending on the sweetness of the pineapple. Cover and chill until ready to serve.
Avocado and Ginger Salsa
A wonderful combination of flavours. Serves 6. Use the same day.
1 small shallot or onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 small clove garlic, peeled and chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
2 spring onions
1 lime or lemon
1 large ripe but firm avocado
1 small red chilli
1 large firm tomato
1 good piece of preserved stem ginger in syrup
½ teasp sugar
1 tbsp walnut oil
2 tsp chopped fresh chives
fresh coriander or parsley
-In a small pan, heat the olive oil and fry the shallot and garlic gently until soft but not brown. Set aside. Top and tail the spring onions and slice thinly on the slant .
-Grate the zest from the lime or lemon and squeeze out the juice. Peel, stone and chop the avocado and put it in a roomy bowl with the lime juice and zest. Stir this gently to coat.
-De-seed the chilli and snip the flesh into tiny pieces using scissors. Peel the tomato and chop the flesh. Finely chop the ginger.
-Stir all the ingredients together in the bowl with the avocado, adding 1 teasp salt and 15 grinds black pepper. Taste for seasoning and garnish with the coriander or parsley.