Recipe: Nana Carmen’s Sweet & Fiery Salsa Libre

Courtesy Nena Acuña

 (Courtesy Nena Acuña)

The other day as my mom and I were putting the groceries away at my house, she gasped, “How did this get into the cart? Did the kids slip it in when we weren’t looking?”  It was a jar of salsa.  I froze.  

In my mind I debated for a few seconds to just let my son and daughter take the rap.  They are ages four and seven, so she’d forgive them.  She looked at me and I said as casually as I could, “I bought it.  I like that brand”.  Nana Carmen’s eyes narrowed, then closed and she let out a loud, “Hmm!”  I immediately understood she would be making her own.  

Growing up in my house there were always two things in our refrigerator guaranteed: homemade tortillas provided weekly by my mom’s mom, Nana Consuelo, and homemade salsa created with love by the woman who would become 'Nana Carmen.'  

Nana Carmen’s house never ever welcomed canned ingredients, let alone an already prepared jar of salsa.  It must be some sort of Mexican-mother food sin, in her eyes, to feed her family and friends mass-produced imposters. The benefits of this type of dedication are many.  The aroma of green chilies roasting on the stove, in preparation for one of countless recipes, is burned into my memory.  

When our family ate red tamales at Christmas or green corn ones in the spring, it was the result of a long journey for corn that was husked by us, ground at the store and turned into a flavorful masa that took hours of preparation, mixing and testing, until a dollop was light enough to float in a cup of water.  

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As a kid, I found the whole process exhausting. As an adult, I miss it. Those who revel in the truly deep flavor of a homemade dish get it. I didn’t truly appreciate it until college, when a friend ordered tamales at a restaurant. It was so odd. Time passed, children arrived and I began to save time by using jarred and canned items. My mom will tell you, that savings came at a cost: flavor.  Nana Carmen is correct.  So below, I am submitting a recipe designed by Nana Carmen.  

It is a spectacular and refreshing fruit salsa that tastes wonderful with chips or on a meat or fish, and not anything that could be replicated in a factory or put in a jar.            


This salsa sings "liberty for all" with its fusion of flavors, from heat to sweet. Its fragrant lightness makes it a perfect choice whether you're dipping with blue corn chips, grilling seafood or adding zing to poultry.  


1 ½ cups seedless  watermelon   

1 ½ cups peeled jicama                   


3-4 fresh garlic cloves

½ cup scallions or Shallots         

3-4 serrano or jalapeno chili peppers, seeded

¾ cup fresh mint leaves            

1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves      


3-4 limes, juiced

Gently combine all ingredients add ground sea salt and black pepper to taste. Buen provecho!

Alicia Acuña is a Fox News correspondent, based out of the Denver bureau.

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