Watermelon, Tequila, and Pineapple Salsa


Whether your dancing to it, listening to it, eating it—or making it, salsa is FUN!

Having fun with Elliot--and Peach salsa

In fact, this morning, at  dawn (while you you’re probably sleeping!), I was featured on Buenos Días Nueva York, creating—once again—my grilled peach salsa (a.k.a. my throwdown salsa!) with the lovely Elliot Saenz, as pictured here! I think I’ve cultivated a new group of Grilled Peach and Avocado Salsa fans! (Click on the bold wording to get to the link for that recipe!)

But let’s get back to the salsa of the day (or of later that same day!): Watermelon, Tequila, and Pineapple Salsa.

Watermelon Salsa

Watermelon, Tequila and Pineapple Salsa, from Nueva Salsa, by Rafael Palomino and Arlen Gargagliano, photo by Miki Diusterhof

This Watermelon, Tequila and Pineapple salsa, original created by my dear friend Chef Rafael Palomino (and one included in our collaboration, Nueva Salsa), is one that I recently “rediscovered” when looking for some fun summertime flavors that included both spark and sweet. The colors—and maginificent flavors—make this salsa a great addition to a summertime barbecue.  Now, for the non-alcohol imbibing crowd—and for kids—you can, por supuesto, leave out the tequila! But for those who can and do enjoy the taste of tequila, leave it in!  Another point you might want to change: the cilantro. Many of my friends are telling me they’ve got too much mint! Well, this salsa won’t solve your mint overflow (though mojitos might!), but you could use mint in lieu of cilantro. As always, mis queridos amigos, the sky’s the limit!

¡Buen provecho! Enjoy!

Latin Twist: Watermelon, Tequila, and Pineapple Salsa OR Salsa is FUN!

Yield: About 4 cups

Perfect for your Labor Day Barbecue, with chips, or on top of your favorite grilled fish or vegetable, this salsa is, like its brethren (using the term loosely, my friends!), very adaptable!


  • 3 cups diced, seeded watermelon
  • 1/3 cup tequila (optional!)
  • 1 roasted poblano—or jalapeño chile, peeled, seeded and diced
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Chipotle purée to taste
  • 1 teaspoon rice or white balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro


  1. In a large bowl, combine the watermelon, pineapple, and tequila.
  2. Stir to blend.
  3. Stir in the remaining ingredients.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving, or up to 1 day.
  5. Add the cilantro just prior to serving.


About Author

Maybe it was the dinner parties my mom always threw—or the hours I spent prepping and cooking alongside her (and then on my own!). Or maybe it was array of fabulous dishes that my family sampled in New York City’s richly diverse restaurants, but I’ve loved creating, savoring, and sharing food for as long as I can remember. Living in Spain, and later in Peru, also greatly influenced my life. These years abroad taught me Spanish—and about living in different countries--but also introduced me to teaching English as a second language, which I’ve done—mostly in the US-- for the past 20-plus (yikes!) years. I’ve authored two cocktail/tapas books, Mambo Mixers and Calypso Coolers, coauthored more than 15 others (mostly food related!), and raised two children. Now I'm chef and owner of my own restaurant, Mambo 64 in Tuckahoe, New York. My message is the same, whether I'm teaching, writing, running the restaurant or being a regular guest on the Spanish-language network Telemundo (on the morning show, Buenos Días Nueva York!). My belief in food—and the power of food—is far reaching, and is married with another one: the power of stories. I’m sure that if we could all sit down and have meals together, sharing both tastes and tales, we’d have peace on earth. Enjoy!

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