This chunky Fresh Tamarillo/Tree Tomato Salsa features chunks of sweet-tart tamarillo, minced red onion, red or green jalapeños, cilantro, and fresh lime juice. This fresh salsa brightens up your favorite tacos, and elevates the simplest grilled meats... and its so quick and easy to make!
👩🏻🍳 Tamara Talks - What is Tamarillo?
Tamarillo/tree tomato/tomate de árbol/ sachatomate (Quechua) are the most common names for this unique, lovely fruit that originated in South America. Even today, it is cultivated in residential gardens for personal use. The fact that I found fresh tamarillos in McAllen, Texas was surprising. It was a delightful surprise!
At the risk of being redundant, tamarillo was first on "my radar" a few years ago during our Peru studies abroad trips. Last summer, specifically, we had a couple of fine dining experiences that featured them, and we actually saw them growing in the gardens around Urubamba, Peru.
Tamarillos don't really fit into a box. They're pretty unique. If I had to describe them, I would say they have the texture of a tomato, a bit of acidity or tartness, and edible seeds that remind me more of kiwi than tomatoes. They're really lovely!
Finding fresh tamarillo in the US is probably not an easy task, but I live on the US/Mexico border. For those of us that do find them, I want to inspire and inform how to use this unique and very healthy fruit. For more information see How to Prepare Tamarillos.
📋 Tamarillo Salsa Ingredients
Here is a quick look at the ingredients in the recipe – it’s handy to use at the grocery store or as a summary of what you need. Skip to the recipe for quantities.
- tamarillos - Whether you know them as tamarillos, tree tomato, tomate de árbol or sachatomate, you need this fruit. This fresh salsa recipe is a template, and I use it for many of my salsas - peach, goldenberry, mango, citrus, or pico de gallo. You can hop over to any of these fresh salsa recipes if you can't find tamarillos.
- fresh chiles - I love color, and I like heat. I typically choose one or more of jalapeños, serranos, and Fresno chiles. I don't do habaneros! Substitute sweet bell pepper if you want to avoid any heat.
- onion - Shallots, scallions, sweet onions, and red onions are all good options. When I use full-sized onions, I soak them for 15-30 minutes in salted ice water prior to adding to the salsa.
- citrus - I either use fresh limes, or a blend of citrus. I NEVER USE BOTTLED JUICE! That's a good way to ruin fresh salsa. You may notice I had a cara cara orange the day I took the process photos below. Grapefruit is good too. I always use at least one lime, but I mix it up with grapefruit, orange/tangerine, and lemon/Meyer lemon.
- fresh herbs - The most obvious choice is cilantro. On photo day, however, I had fresh mint, and we loved the combination of the mint and cilantro.
🔪 Salsa Instructions and Video
- Prepare the fresh tamarillo - I apologize for the poor quality of the video. It was a "partly cloudy" day in McAllen, with cloud cover changing the lighting by the minute! It does get the point across!
- Step 1 - Prepare the tamarillo by removing the skin and stem. Do a fairly small dice.
- Step 2 - Dice and mince all of the fresh ingredients.
- Add the citrus juice - Add the fresh-squeezed citrus juice to the prep bowl. Stir to combine. Season with sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Adjust as needed.
- Serve - Scoop the combined salsa ingredients into a serving bowl with a spoon for serving. Enjoy!
🥭 How to Use Tree Tomato Salsa
- Use this fresh salsa in your favorite tacos. If you need ideas, see my Tacos and Tostadas category!
- Serve it with simple grilled chicken or fish, smoked or roasted meats, pork chops, or roasted chicken.
- Try it in a grain bowl, Buddha bowl, or salad bowl.
- How about on a charcuterie board?
- It makes a great topping for hamburgers, veggie burgers, and turkey burgers.
Is this salsa good leftover?
It's best eaten fresh, but we do enjoy it the next day. Any longer than the next, and I wouldn't eat it.
Is there a substitute for the tamarillos?
Of course. I use this basic fresh salsa recipe with peaches, goldenberries, citrus, dragon fruit, kumquat, and pico de gallo.
I love my vegetable/fruit chopper. It makes quick work of the prep!
Mix it up a little bit by using different herbs - cilantro, mint, basil, parsley, even thyme are all good options!
We love quite a bit of heat at Andersen casa, and I'm pretty generous with the fresh chiles. The amount is subjective, so proceed (cautiously if you're unfamiliar) according your family's preferences.
Soaking chopped onions in salted ice water for 15 minutes helps reduce any harsh flavor. Rinse it before adding to the salsa.
I love fresh salsas for so many reasons: They're healthy, they're lightning fast to prepare, and they're easy to customize to your main dish and flavor profile. If you are fortunate enough to find tamarillos at your Latin market or farmers market, I highly recommend you give them a try!
Fresh Tamarillo/Tree Tomato Salsa
- 2 whole tamarillos - peeled, stemmed, and diced (see Video in Post)
- ¾ cup fresh citrus juice - see Ingredients above or Notes below for suggestions
- 2 tablespoons fresh chiles, minced - more or less to taste*
- ¼ cup chopped onion - scallions or shallot
- ½ cup fresh herbs (cilantro, mint, basil, parsley) - chopped
- sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
- Prepare the tamarillo by removing the skin and stem (see video in post). Do a fairly small dice.
- Dice and mince all of the fresh ingredients.
- Add the fresh-squeezed citrus juice to the prep bowl. Stir to combine. Season with sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Adjust as needed.
NOTE: Macronutrients are an approximation only using unbranded ingredients and MyFitnessPal.com. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.
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