It has always been a tradition in my family to eat tamales on Christmas Eve. The anticipation for tamales can be overwhelming as we wait for them to steam on the stove, so to help those cravings this year I created a Salsa Navideña as a family snack.
Salsa Navideña is a mixture of cranberries, roasted jalapeños, prickly pear syrup, cilantro, and lime juice, creating a color that is perfect for the Advent season. The sweetness from the prickly pear highlights this dish, but you’ll find a wide blend of flavors from the heat of the jalapeños to that special tartness from the cranberries.
Cranberry sauce is a side dish you’ll usually find this time of year at Thanksgiving and Christmas, so I felt like it would appropriate to incorporate this fruit into a Salsa Navideña. December is actually the end of cranberry harvesting season, which may have been why it was difficult for me to find some this year. I ended up going to three different stores to find fresh cranberries for this salsa.
As for the prickly pear syrup, I have made my own sauce on occasions, but the season for harvesting prickly pear fruit is generally in late summer. Cheri’s Desert Harvest out of Tucson is my go-to for prickly pear syrup when I can’t make my own. Their sauce has an amazing rich flavor! You can check out Cheri’s Desert Harvest website here.
Also, if you are not a fan of jalapeños, feel free to use serranos or anaheims instead for this recipe. Just a single roasted serrano or anaheim will give the salsa the necessary heat it needs. The heat isn’t overbearing in Salsa Navideña, but is actually a pleasant taste for a cold winter day.
1 ½ cups Fresh Cranberries
3 Jalapeños (or 2 Large Jalapeños), roasted, stemmed & seeded
1 tbsp Cilantro
1 Lime, juiced
½ cup Prickly Pear Syrup
½ tsp Salt
¼ tsp Pepper
Remove the stems from the jalapeños and then cut them in half. Remove all the seeds with a spoon. Roast the jalapeños over the stove until lightly charred all sides (about 4 minutes over medium heat on each side).
Once the jalapeños have finished roasting transfer them to the blender. Wash the cranberries with cold water in a colander before transferring to the blender. Purée the jalapeños and cranberries together for 30 seconds before adding the rest of the ingredients to the blender. Mix for one minute. Then pour into a bowl and let sit in the refrigerator for 20 minutes before serving.