Latin Twist: Roasted Jalapeño and Citrus Salsa


My food = magic thing has been going on for some time. This, mis queridos amigos, is inspired by my recent re-viewing of one of my favorite movies, Como el Agua Para Chocolate, Like Water for Chocolate, and the passing of one of my favorite authors, Gabriel García Marquez.

Movies, books, and food share a lot.  A  great meal, like a movie or book, can “send” you to a different time and place, or into a moment of great sensual pleasure. Now stay with me! This salsa that I’m presenting to you today is a simple one, but it’s layered in a fabulous flavor combination; this Roasted Jalapeño and Citrus Salsa is a dance of oranges, grapefruits, lemons and limes: they all work so well together to enhance each other, and    the dish they blanket or nuzzle against. And, as I’ve said before, es una belleza,  it’s a beauty. The sparkling citrus segments stand out against the new green and call, “Yes! Spring is here!”Roasted Jalapeño and Citrus Salsa2

Photo by Miki Duisterhof from Nueva Salsa, Palomino and Gargagliano, Chronicle Books

So on this weekend, which is a holiday weekend for many of us, following another holiday week for many of us, I hope you’ll have plenty of magic—and, of course, great food—in your lives! ¡Buen provecho! Enjoy!

Latin Twist: Roasted Jalapeño and Citrus Salsa

Yield: About 2 cups

This citrus-filled salsa, originally from Nueva Salsa, is perfect with grilled fish, delicious with salad greens, and even ideal on its own with chips! You can make it ahead, and store it for up to 3 days. Return to room temperature and stir in the scallions just prior to serving.


  • 2 roasted jalapeños, peeled, seeded and diced
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • 3 oranges, peeled and cut into segments
  • 1 grapefruit, peeled and cut into segments
  • 1 lemon, peeled and cut into segments
  • 1 lime, peeled and cut into segments
  • 2 tablespoons excellent quality olive oil
  • Coarse salt to taste
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (or to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon 1/4-inch diagonally cut scallions, with additional greens for garnish


  1. Combine the chiles, orange zest and citrus segments in a large bowl.
  2. Stir in the oil, salt, and sugar to taste.
  3. Let sit for about 20 minutes, and then stir in the scallions, garnish and serve!


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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