Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Salsa Adds Zing to Foodservice

Excerpts from a Produce Business article on Foodservice marketing 4/08

Wild or mild, salsa is hot. No longer merely a dip for chips, America's No. 1 condiment is popping up on restaurant tables.

Some foodservice operators are blending unusual ingredient with traditional tomatoes, while others are replacing tomatoes entirely, using other fruit or vegetables as the prime ingredient.

"Salsas has gone beyond the tomato," reports Mary Ostlund, director of marketing, Brooks Tropicals, Homestead, FL. "Salsa is being redefined." For a very subtle yet complex taste, she recommends replacing tomatoes with papayas. "Papayas add the taste of the tropics to a salsa. This fruit goes well and marinates well with other ingredients, particularly limes."

While Brooks doesn't process its fruits and vegetables, Ostlund states, "We work closely with our customers to include tropicals whenever possible. You can be very ambitious and adventurous with salsa. They're so easy to do, and so hard to go wrong."

For intriguing contrasts of flavor and texture, Ostlund suggests steamed artichokes with marmalade-thick avocado salsa peppered with bits of celery.

"One more ingredient that makes a great salsa is starfruit," she explains, recalling a restaurant in Belize where the chef mixed starfruit with papayas, green peppers, vinegar and oil to make a salsa with the consistency of salad dressing. "It was delicious over the grouper."

"Think of salsa as a medley between different fruits and vegetables."