Strawberry Rhubarb Salsa

It’s Cinco De Mayo Week at The Tomato Tart, and I’m so excited to celebrate with friends and family and fantastic food like this strawberry rhubarb salsa. Cinco De Mayo or May 5th , is one of my favorite culinary holidays. Celebrated as Mexican Independence Day in the US, Cinco De Mayo is actually the date that the Mexicans beat the French in the battle of Puebla in 1882. If you’re questioning why a French girl loves this holiday so much, no need. Never question a French person’s passion for excellent food and a good party.

Strawberry Rhubarb Salsa

I’m also from California, so I’ve always been surrounded by friends and extended family of Mexican ethnicity. Which also means, I’ve been lucky enough to eat the food in authentic eateries and in the kitchens of talented home cooks for most of my life. Tacos, ceviche, sopa de tortilla, salsas, quesadillas, mariscos of every shape and size, soft and fluffy arroz, flan, cajeta, sopapillas, and pozole. I love Mexican and Latin food of every origin.

Another aspect of being from California means that I’m sensitive to my friends’ dietary restrictions and preferences.  This week, I’ll be offering a menu of foods that you can prepare for Cinco de Mayo for everyone- whether gluten free, vegan, lactose-intolerant, pescatarian, or omni.  We’ll start off with this vegan, gluten-free, strawberry-rhubarb salsa.

Strawberry Rhubarb Salsa

I love this fresh and perfectly seasonal spring salsa for a few reasons- not the least of which is the inclusion of tart and crisp raw rhubarb. Now, the rhubarb gets a 24-48 hour soak in a cilantro simple syrup to take away some of the bracing sourness. I happen to like that flavor, but I understand that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. I also like the balance of sweet and hot- the strawberries and rhubarb are totally offset by the smoky sea salt and spicy serrano chili.  Some things just beg for a big bowl of chips. This recipe is easily doubled or tripled for a crowd, just make sure to make extra syrup for the rhubarb if you’re doing so.

Strawberry Rhubarb Salsa


  • 2 stalks of rhubarb (toxic leaves and roots discarded!) thinly sliced
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¾  cup water
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • zest of 1 lime
  • 4 cups of organic strawberries (I used sweet tart chandler strawberries)
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 serrano chili
  • smoked sea salt
Strawberry Rhubarb Salsa

  • Bring sugar and water to a boil over medium high heat. Stir gently to dissolve sugar, and boil for five minutes.  Add a large handful of cilantro and the lime zest and boil for five more minutes.
  • Strain the cilantro lime syrup into a mason jar and add sliced rhubarb.  Cool for at least one hour before refrigerating- then refrigerate for 24-48 hours.
  • Remove tops from well-rinsed berries. Finely dice the strawberries into ¼ inch pieces and add to a bowl.
  • Drain the rhubarb and dice into 1/8 inch pieces, and add to the strawberries.
  • To the strawberry & rhubarb mix, add 3 tablespoons finely minced shallot, 1 finely diced serrano chili (seeds removed if you want to avoid the heat), one large handful finely chopped cilantro, and mix well. Add smoked sea salt to taste and serve with crispy tortilla chips.

PS- I like salt free organic chips so I can salt my salsa, and never have to worry that my chips will make it taste too salty!

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Winnie May 1, 2012 at 10:32 AM

What a creative recipe Sabrina!! And so beautiful :)


The Tomato Tart May 1, 2012 at 10:24 PM

Thanks Winnie. I ate so much of this just by the spoonful. I might actually have a salsa problem!


Trish May 1, 2012 at 7:36 PM

Love this! Very different and beautiful color. Cheers to cinco de mayo!


The Tomato Tart May 1, 2012 at 10:25 PM

Thanks Trish. I love Cinco De Mayo- such a fabulous food holiday. I\’ll be at Dolores Park this year. See you there?


@munchnmunchkin May 2, 2012 at 5:36 PM

What a genius idea, Sabrina! I love Cinco de Mayo. Here in Texas it's quite a party. I'm making fruit tacos on vegan chocolate tortillas this weekend. Your salsa would be the perfect topping! Thanks for sharing.


Robin May 2, 2012 at 5:58 PM

FanTAStic idea! I love sweet salsas but generally use mango. Love this combination. Beautiful pictures


Michelle K. May 2, 2012 at 7:20 PM

What an original recipe. It looks fantastic and combines Cinco de Mayo celebration with a seasonal ingredient that I am looking for new ways to eat – rhubarb. I would love for you to link up this recipe on my Seasonal Eats May roundup found here, which highlights posts about using seasonal ingredients in great recipes.


Sarah May 5, 2012 at 9:06 PM

This looks so delicious! I love the cilantro lime syrup. I think this would be good over some grilled chicken!


Lea July 7, 2012 at 11:39 AM

Made a variation of this salsa for a housewarming potluck I'm having tonight. I cooked the rhubarb since I didn't have enough time to let them soak, and used fresh green onions instead of shallots. It will blow their socks off!


The Tomato Tart July 12, 2012 at 10:24 AM

Oh Yay, Lea! So glad you enjoyed it. I\’ll have to try it with cooked rhubarb too!


Graham November 18, 2012 at 6:16 PM

Just one serrano? I wonder what would happen if I added a few more seasonings to the mix.


The Tomato Tart November 20, 2012 at 7:39 PM

I think more chiles would be great.I am always in favor of more chilies!


Jessica August 17, 2013 at 11:21 PM

This looks good, I'd love to have that for breakfast!


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