Salvadorian-Style Red Bean & Short Rib Stew with Salsa Cruda

This is an adapted version of the Salvadorian classic, made with ingredients more readily available to American cooks. The stew is rich and saucy, and the salsa cruda (“raw sauce”) is fresh and a perfect flavor compliment.

In the original version, several hard-to-find vegetables are called for, as well as much less meat. I also add onion and garlic when cooking the chicken. Chayote is a fruit that tastes like a cross between a papaya, avocado, and squash; it’s available in my grocery store, but if you can’t find it, leave it out or substitute yellow crookneck squash.

I like to serve this stew over white rice, with one short rib per person. Give everyone a small bowl of salsa cruda for topping, and you’re all set. ¡Muy delicioso!

Red Bean Stew Closeup


  • 2 pounds short ribs
  • 3 cans undrained red beans
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 6 whole peeled garlic cloves
  •  3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
  • 2 green plantains, peeled and cut into 1-inch rounds
  • 1 light or dark green chayote (1 pound), pitted, peeled and cut into a 1-inch dice (peel skin with a vegetable peeler, taking off just the top layer of skin)
  • 1/2 medium green cabbage, cut into 1-inch strips
  • salt to taste

for the salsa cruda:

  • 1 pound plum (Roma) tomatoes (4-6 count), seeded and cut into cubes
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
  • 1 small green pepper, cored, seeded and finely chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped mint
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Combine first 5 ingredients in a large cooking pot; simmer 1 hour covered.

When ribs are tender, remove them along with the garlic cloves. In a fry pan, heat oil over medium heat and brown garlic and ribs on all sides (keep pot of beans simmering while you do this).

While the ribs brown, add parsley, cilantro, plantains, chayote, and salt (if needed) to beans; stir. Add ribs and garlic back to pot. Simmer 20 more minutes or until vegetables are getting tender, then add cabbage and cook another 10-15 minutes until all vegetables are done.

Make the salsa while the pot finishes cooking: combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir. Serve immediately. Enjoy!


Fresh Pico de Gallo

Pico de gallo is such a great, fresh topping for so many dishes.  I like to use it where the taste of salsa is wanted, but without all the liquid and with more texture.

It is so simple and despite what you might read about pico only lasting the day it’s made, mine usually lasts through the next day as well.

Roma, or plum, tomatoes work best here, because they’re less watery.  But any tomato you have will work.

Top any Spanish/Mexican/whatever dish with this.  Eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Just kidding.

But really – top burritos, quesadillas, pork roasts, tacos.  Add it to wraps with turkey, veggies, and queso blanco.  Then make more so you can keep eating it!


Fresh Pico de Gallo

Yield 2 cups.

  • 3 Roma (plum) tomatoes
  • 1 cup packed fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1/2 jalapeno
  • 1/4 bell pepper (any color)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 1-2 limes
  • dash of cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Dice first 6 ingredients and add to a bowl.  Top with cumin, salt and pepper, and squeeze the juice of the limes over the top.  Stir gently to incorporate.

Serve with a variety of dishes, including tacos, quesadillas, roasted pork, or add to wraps.  Eat it on tortilla chips too!  Tightly covered, the pico will keep in the fridge for up to 2 days.  If you have leftover pico the next day, make it into salsa by pulsing in a food processor or blender to give it new life.  Enjoy!

Coriander Chicken Tacos with Mango-Tomato Salsa

Have I ever mentioned that I am obsessed with coriander?

It smells sooo heavenly.  I want to swim in it!  It’s actually the seeds of the cilantro plant.  No wonder I love it!  I love cilantro!

How about a recipe that includes both?  Spanish maybe?  Done.

Coriander makes such a great spice for chicken, seafood, and vegetables and is used extensively in many Latin American countries including Mexico.  Try this recipe with a different protein for variety!

The mango-tomato salsa is divine.  It’s all the chicken needs.  If you have an avocado handy, add that in too!

Coriander Chicken Tacos with Mango-Tomato Salsa

Yield 4-5 cups chicken & 2 cups salsa.

the chicken:

  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • juice of half a lime
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil, plus more for cooking

the salsa:

  • 2 mangoes, diced
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered or halved
  • 1 avocado, diced (optional)
  • 1 jalapeno, partially seeded and minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
  • juice of whole lime
  • salt to taste
  • 8-10 tortillas, corn if you’re going gluten free

Begin with the chicken, dicing the meat into uniform pieces.

Measure out the coriander, garlic powder, oregano, pepper and salt, and add to a zip top bag with the chicken.  Add canola oil and the lime juice, seal up and toss to evenly coat. Marinate in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Next, prepare the salsa.  Dice up the mangoes, tomatoes, jalapeno, cilantro and onion and add to a bowl.  Sprinkle in the coriander and salt and squeeze the lemon juice over the top.  Stir to combine, cover and refrigerate.

Add the chicken to a skillet with 2 tablespoons canola oil.  Cook on medium high heat until cooked through and browned on the outside.

Warm the tortillas in a clean skillet over high heat until warmed through and beginning to brown.  Keep warm in a kitchen towel until ready to serve.

Assemble tacos, topping chicken with salsa mixture.  Serve with hot sauce and wedges of lime.  Enjoy!


Fresh Salsa

Salsa…one of my all-time favorite foods.

There’s nothing like homemade salsa, and once you make it yourself, you’ll never go back to the jarred disaster claiming to be salsa.

You can leave out the Ro-Tel if you like.  We just love the extra boost of flavor.  And don’t oversalt the salsa.  Tortilla chips are salty enough!

This is my version, and I always get asked for the recipe.  Our favorite certified gluten free tortilla chips are Snyder’s of Hanover Whole Grain Tortilla chips.

It will keep in your fridge for a few days, but it’ll get eaten long before that…


Fresh Salsa

Yield about 3 cups.

  • 1 can Ro-Tel tomatoes and chiles (mild or original)
  • 3 Roma (plum) tomatoes
  • 1/2 large onion
  • 1 bunch cilantro (about 1 cup chopped)
  • 1/2 bell pepper (any color)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 limes
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 jalapeno, optional

Roughly chop the tomatoes, onion, cilantro, bell pepper, and garlic.  Drain the Ro-Tel and add it to a food processor or blender.  Add the chopped ingredients on top, squeeze the juice of both limes in, and add the 1/8 teaspoon cumin, salt and pepper.  Don’t overdo the cumin or it will overpower the salsa!

Blend to desired consistency, and refrigerate until needed.  Salsa will keep in fridge for a few days, but I promise there won’t be any left the first time you bring it out.  Enjoy!