This Healthy Peruvian Sarsa Salad is a traditional Peruvian salad built around radishes. Radishes are synonymous with spring, and I find the prettiest varieties this time of year. Don't limit this quick and easy salad to spring, though. You can find fresh radishes year 'round, and it's sure to become a family favorite!
👩🏻🍳 Tamara Talks - About Traditional Peruvian Salads
When thinking of Peruvian food, one thinks of dishes like ceviche, ají de gallina, and chaufa, right? The food of the Andes in particular tends to be protein and carb heavy. One has to think a little harder to think of veggie side dishes and salads, but they are an important part of the Peruvian diet.
Salsa criolla is a quintessential side dish/salsa you'll find throughout Peru, and my recipe sticks pretty close to the salad I've had many times in Ollantaytambo, Peru (The Sacred Valley). I would definitely label it a "traditional Peruvian salad." I want to continue in this vein with bringing you recipes for fresh Peruvian side dishes to serve alongside some of the protein and carb heavy mains.
This Peruvian sarsa salad recipe resembles a salsa criolla - red onion, tomatoes, chiles, lime, cilantro. Lima beans (frozen), queso fresco, and avocado round out the recipe. A simple fresh lime juice and olive oil dressing and some fresh mint and cilantro make it sing. You'll find it's quick and easy too!
📋 Ingredients You'll Need
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.
- radishes - I love radishes in the spring when I can get these beautiful easter egg blend radishes! Radishes are available year 'round in most locations, but they're so special in the spring. I have also used black radishes in this recipe.
- Lima beans - Absolutely use fresh if you can get them! I find frozen Lima beans steamed or boiled for a few minutes work fine.
- red onions - When I have time, I soak them 15-30 minutes in salted ice water.
- queso fresco - Fresh mozzarella is a good substitute. The queso fresco I used on photo day came from our local Latino market, and the quality was exceptional. It had a slightly crumbly texture, and just the right amount of saltiness.
- red chile or pepper - Rocoto pepper is the Peruvian standard in a dish like this. They're quite hot, so proceed with caution if you can get them. I get them in a jar packed in water, and I am pretty stingy with them even though we love spicy food. Fresh Fresno chile is a good option. I have also used roasted piquillo or red bell peppers, neither of which has any discernible heat.
- avocado - Avocado (palta in Peru) is everywhere in Peru, and they're amazing. I had to include one in this recipe. It really is optional.
- fresh cilantro and mint - The combination is really special in this salad recipe, but you must have cilantro!
- fresh limes
- olive oil
- sea salt and fresh ground pepper
- Prep the onions - Add thin-sliced onions to a bowl of ice and water with a palmful of salt. Allow them to soak 15-30 minutes. Rinse and drain.
- Prep the Lima beans - Cook the Lima beans until barely tender. Most frozen Limas are par-cooked. Read the package instructions. Mine cook 5-7 minutes.
- Prep the remaining salad ingredients - If not serving immediately, wait on the avocado.
- Mix up the lime dressing - Combine the lime zest and juice, olive oil, salt and pepper in a small jar. Shake well just before pouring on the salad.
- Assemble the sarsa salad - Toss the Limas, onion, red chile or pepper, queso fresco, radishes, cilantro and/or mint with the dressing in a large bowl. Serve with sliced avocado as desired. Enjoy!
What kind of red chile or pepper should I use? Rocoto peppers are the Peruvian preference, but they're pretty hot for many people. We love them but can't always get them. Red Fresno chiles have similar sweet heat. Water-packed roasted piquillo or red bell peppers are nice, but have no heat.
Is sarsa salad good leftover? We like it for lunch the next day. It won't be as crisp, but the flavors marry and it tastes good. I wouldn't keep it longer than that.
What can I serve with this salad? On photo day, I marinated chicken thighs in lime juice, olive oil, garlic, and ají amarillo chile paste. It's delicious with Peruvian grilled chicken and Peruvian lamb stew.
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This healthy traditional Peruvian salad recipe makes a delicious and easy side dish for your favorite grilled foods - from any cuisine. I hope you'll give it a try soon!