Pico de Gallo is probably one of the easiest Mexican dishes to make. Considered to be a salad in and of itself, its three main ever-present ingredients are fresh tomatoes, onions, and cilantro. But there are really as many variations on the Pico de Gallo theme as there are cooks wielding knives.
Pico de Gallo is also commonly, although mistakenly, called a salsa. When many people think of salsa, they are actually picturing Pico de Gallo. Salsa is the word for sauce in Spanish and salsa is much more of a thick spicy liquid than the chopped, chunky Pico de Gallo. Salsas also have many different flavors as they can be made with more variety of ingredients such as tomatoes, tomatillos, any variety of chilis, mango, or avocado as their primary base.
Pico de Gallo is a raw vegetable and fruit – since tomatoes are technically a fruit – dish and is very easy to prepare. All you need are the ingredients, a bowl, a cutting board, and a good knife.
For it to be a true Pico de Gallo, the ingredients must be fresh, no canned items or dried herbs! In El Norte, this may be something that is limited to the summer months because of the availability of fresh ingredients.
The Main Ingredients:
Ripe tomatoes, and if they are available, make them heirloom and organic for the flavor. Organic cherry tomatoes work well too.
Sprigs of fresh cilantro
The Secondary Ingredients: All or Any
A clove or two of fresh garlic
A serrano or jalapeno pepper
Red and/or green bell pepper
The juice of a lime or two and if you can’t find a lime, a lemon will do
A splash of olive oil
A dash of salt
– Chop up the ingredients into small bits and put in the bowl. Mix. Done.
– Things do not have to be perfectly sized as Pico de Gallo is very chunky. When you chop the tomatoes, make sure to capture the juice and put it in the bowl as well. The heat in the jalapeno peppers lives in their seeds. Some people take out the seeds and some leave the seeds in, it’s up to you and how you like it.
– This dish is much more fun to make without a food processor.
– If red onions are too harsh for you when used raw, saute them for a moment to sweeten them up.
Other ingredients that also make Pico de Gallo yummy (but probably not all of these together):
Diced avocado, mango, or papaya.
What to do with Pico de Gallo?
– Open a bag of chips and dip right in.
– Pico de Gallo tastes great topped on grilled chicken or fish. Use either cold, or saute very quickly to warm it up.
– Scramble into eggs, stuff into an omrlette with some jack cheese, or toss into/onto home fries.
– Salsa does like to be paired with sour cream.
– Toss into a green mixed salad with cooled grilled chicken (or just the green salad for you vegetarians).
– Stir into guacamole or a bowl of sour cream for a more creamy and cool dip.
Do you have a variation on Pico de Gallo that you love? Let us know about it in the comments.