sal·sa (säl′sə) n.
A spicy sauce of chopped, usually uncooked vegetables or fruit, especially tomatoes, onions, and chili peppers, used as a condiment.
I didn’t use to like salsa much- it might have been the onion-ey spiciness, the trauma of my tongue’s encounter with a particularly sharp tortilla chip, or the fact that I have never been a huge fan of salads and similar raw mixtures. But before you take up your pitchforks and burn me at the stake for heresy, let me say that I’m a total salsa convert now. Seriously, I swear.
What converted me was a fresh encounter- no garlic, way less onion, and most importantly the addition of roasted beets and mangoes. Together they add nuttiness and sweetness to the mix that complements the heat, the tanginess, the crunch, and the sharp raw flavours- all these, wrapped up in a warm homemade tortilla.
Here’s a word of warning- you really don’t want to eat these tacos in front of anyone you’re planning to impress. You will start rapidly shoving taco into your gob unceremoniously. The beet red salsa will dribble from your chin, down your elbows, onto your shirt and everything you love. You will neglect all things civil because your mouth is on fire and it hurts so darn good.
On the other hand, if those around you aren’t running away screaming in horror after witnessing your taco-eating act, keep them around as your friends. These people are hard to come by.
Technically, it’s not a roasted beet and mango salsa that’s filling these tortillas. It’s a roasted beet and mango pico de gallo, which in Español literally means ‘beak of rooster’. Salsa, meaning ‘sauce’, is generally more liquid than solid, while pico de gallo is much chunkier and can be considered a salad. But since salsa is much more recognizable in the English-speaking world, we’ll keep calling it salsa.
To use as a vehicle for the mango-ey, beet-ey goodness, I made some chapatis from scratch. But wait! Didn’t I just say tortilla?
Chapatis and tortillas are essentially unleavened flatbreads cooked on a griddle. While tortillas are contain lard or vegetable shortening and are made from corn or wheat, chapatis typically do not have any fat in the dough and are made from atta flour, a wholemeal flour milled from Durum wheat. Essentially, a chapati is a fat-free, wholemeal tortilla.
I love making my own chapatis, as it gives me a very good excuse to get my hands dirty and bash around a piece of dough for quite a while. The routine of roll-cook-flip can also be quite relaxing, and frees my mind to wander however it likes. Sometimes, I race the griddle to see if I could finish rolling out a chapati before the last one needs flipping.
If you are interested in making your own chapatis, Sinfully Spicy has a very informative post with lots of pictures that’s worth checking out. Otherwise you can simply use store-bought taco shells, tortillas, or tortilla chips. You could even eat it straight out of the bowl with a stick of celery as a spoon! 🙂
In this recipe I’ve included a shortcut for roasting beets, which involve steaming in the microwave just prior to roasting. I find that this shortens the cooking time by quite a bit, which means I get to have tacos sooner.
You might also want to leave the beets out to cool a bit before adding to the raw veggies, as it might ‘cook’ the mixture and affect some of the flavours. Once you stir in the beets, everything turns into an unbelievably vibrant red that’s just so pretty to look at!
Serve the tacos with lots of sriracha (or tabasco, if you like), a sprinkle of fresh cilantro, and plenty of sunshine. Just looking at the bright colours while writing this is making me happy. I have enjoyed these tacos so much and I hope you do, too! 🙂
Roasted Beet & Mango Tacos Recipe
(Makes 3 servings)
6 tortillas or chapatis
2 medium beets, peeled and cubed
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon basil seeds (optional)
1 lemon, juice of
2 medium mangoes, cubed
1 stalk celery
1 large handful cilantro
salt & pepper to taste
sriracha, for serving
- Preheat the oven to 220ºC.
- Steam beets by microwaving on high, covered, for 5 minutes. Pour any collected juices into a bowl, and set aside. Drizzle the beets with olive oil. Transfer to the oven to roast for 15 minutes, until tender.
- Add lemon juice to the beet juice. Stir in the basil seeds to hydrate.
- Meanwhile, cube the mangoes and finely chop onion, tomato, celery, and parsley. Add to the basil seeds and stir well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- When beets are ready, and let cool on the counter slightly. Warm up the flatbread in the oven for 1 or 2 minutes.
- Add the roasted beets to the mango and mix well. Scoop onto the warm tortillas, drizzle generously with sriracha, and enjoy!