Mango Monday: Green Mango & Papaya Salsa with Baked Taro Chips

As I type this, the temperature outside reads 104 degrees. It will still be in the 90's later on tonight. And the forecast for the rest of the week? Same.

Lounging in the pool, having an ice cold drink, and munching on some chips & salsa all sound like great ways to beat the heat, don't they? So here's a tropical twist on the classic chips & salsa combo!

Tart green mango, sweet Hawaiian papaya, and green heirloom tomato come together in a salsa that will have you wishing you were on an island somewhere. (Preferably on a beach with a gorgeous ocean view...) And to scoop all of that deliciousness up? Baked taro chips! This Hawaiian staple is sliced thinly and baked to a golden-brown crisp.

I made a trip to the farmers market yesterday (yes, even in triple digit heat) and came home with a ton of fresh fruits and vegetables...Maybe even too much fruits and vegetables...This salsa concoction is what happens when I've got a bowl of super-ripe fruit and an overcrowded vegetable drawer in my refrigerator. I wanted to use my papaya and tomatoes before the warm, humid afternoon turned them into mush.

My mango, although red on the outside, was still pretty green on the inside. Its flesh was still sour and crunchy. Since the Hawaiian papaya (much smaller and sweeter than Mexican papayas with a subtle floral flavor) was already very ripe, the contrast of the sweet and tart made for a fresh and bright medley! I also used a green heirloom tomato to highlight the flavor and texture of the mango.

Everything gets diced and mixed together in a bowl, then seasoned!  I used a combination of chopped cilantro, lime juice, ground black pepper, and red Hawaiian sea salt. All of the beautiful colors make this such a festive, summertime dish! (Say it with me...How could you ever be unhappy with something so pretty???)

Instead of serving the salsa with the typical fried tortilla chip, I decided to serve baked taro chips. This large root vegetable is best known for its popularity in Polynesian cuisine. (Remember the taro fields in Hanalei?) Whenever I fly Hawaiian Airlines, I fall in love with the bag of taro chips that's given as the in-flight snack. I even buy a few more bags as soon as I land, so I can snack on crispy taro chips all throughout my trip. (Especially when laying out on the sand, being a beach bum. Best.) They have a subtle sweet flavor, almost like a plantain, and are much heartier than a potato.

Since the taro root is sold in large/whole pieces, you have to peel off the rough skin first. But don't be fooled by its funky appearance! The skin comes off easily with the help of a vegetable peeler. Afterwards, you can use that same vegetable peeler or a mandolin to make wider-shaped chips.

You can also use the slicing blade on your food processor. Because you need to cut the taro root down to fit in the feeding tube, you'll have more petite-sized chips.

Lightly brush some vegetable or canola oil onto a large baking sheet, and spread the taro into a single layer across the baking sheet. (No overlapping!) Then, brush the tops with a bit more oil and season with salt. Grind up some more red Hawaiian sea salt and sprinkle it on!

Bake the taro at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes, just until the edges start to brown and curl up. Let the chips cool on the pan for another couple of minutes, and they'll really crisp up.

While I don't usually like to bake when the weather is this hot, the taro cooks so quickly that it's not even an issue. Plus, the alternative would be to fry these chips. I'll choose putting in the pans then shutting the oven door over cooking with hot oil on a hot stove, hands down. Healthier and convenient!

All that's left to do is to pile the freshly baked taro chips next to the Mango & Papaya Salsa, a light-yet-tasty snack or appetizer! There's a tropical sweetness from the papaya, and a tart crunch from the green mango and green tomato.The hearty taro chips are all-natural, non-greasy, and completely satisfying! (Not to mention, highly addictive!)

This is a perfect, refreshing Summer salsa...ideal for poolside lounging, backyard BBQ's, and even picnics. Try serving them with Grilled Fish Sandwiches and Mango Margaritas! :)

Green Mango & Papaya Salsa with Baked Taro Chips

Print Recipe
1 1/2 cups Diced Fresh Green Mango (1 medium-sized mango)
1 1/2 cups Diced Fresh Papaya (1 Hawaiian papaya)
1 cup Diced Green Tomato (1 medium-sized heirloom)
1/2 cup Diced Cherry Tomato (about 6 cherry tomatoes)
1/2 Small Yellow Onion, diced
2 Garlic Cloves, finely minced
1 Serrano Pepper, seeded & finely minced
1/2 tsp Finely Ground Red Hawaiian Sea Salt
1/4 tsp Ground Black Pepper
Juice of 1 Lime
Freshly Chopped Cilantro
2 1/2 lbs Fresh Taro Root
Vegetable or Canola Oil, for brushing
Finely Ground Red Hawaiian Sea Salt
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Position racks so that they divide the oven into thirds.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the mango, papaya, tomatoes, onion, garlic, and pepper. Season with the sea salt, ground pepper, lime juice, and chopped cilantro. Toss lightly to coat all of the ingredients and to combine evenly. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  3. To prepare the chips, peel the taro root first. Then, slice thinly using a vegetable peeler, mandolin, or slicing blade for your food processor. Lightly brush 2 large baking sheets with oil, and lay out pieces of taro in one even layer on each sheet. (No overlapping!) Lightly brush the tops, and season with sea salt. Next, bake the taro chips at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. After removing the pans from the oven, allow the chips to cool for 1-2 minutes on the pan. Transfer the crispy chips to a serving platter or bowl. Repeat this step, baking in batches, until all of the taro root is used.
  4. Serve the taro chips with the fresh mango salsa! Enjoy!