If you can handle a little chopping you can make one of the freshest tasting summer sauces ever, and one of my favorites: Pico de gallo.
I bought some prepared pico de gallo in July at Whole Foods. I was scurrying around getting groceries because I had house guests arriving and was running short on time.
Vacuuming up cat hair tumbleweeds trumped spending some time in the kitchen.
You would think with a dark brown/black cat, his clumps of light-as-air fur would blend right into the dark wood floor. But they don’t. It’s a disappointingly unforgiving surface that shows everything. (And while I am the family neat-freak I don’t follow the Unclutterer’s advice on taming fur tumbleweeds. I usually just try to ignore them for as long as possible. 4-5 days is as good as it gets before I’m yanking the vacuum out.)
I gulped when I looked at the price on the small plastic deli container of pico de gallo. I often do this at Whole Foods; it’s part of my love-hate relationship with them. On a normal day I would have put it back, gathered up the ingredients — from, ahem, the local greengrocer — and headed back to the kitchen. But I was already behind in my grocery shopping. The prepared pico de gallo would have to do.
It was fresh and tasty, no question. We nearly inhaled it with half a bag of chips, as I remember.
But the next chance I got, which didn’t take long since chips-salsa-guacamole is a regular cocktail snack around here, I made sure to have the ingredients on hand to make it myself. And save some money.
Pico de gallo is a great pre-dinner nibble, but it’s good for more than just a dip for tortilla chips. I think it deserves a spot right on the dinner plate, especially this time of year when the local tomatoes are bursting with flavor, and the sunny patio draws me away from the kitchen more often.
And really, unless you’re making pico de gallo for big gathering, the chopping doesn’t take that long, maybe 10 minutes or so.
It pairs wonderfully well with grilled chicken, shrimp or (like in the photo below) grilled halibut jazzed up by ground chili and cumin. Next time I have house guests in the summer, I know exactly what to serve.
Recipe note: Chopped vs diced vs minced — what’s the difference? Here’s a good guideline from The Kitchn on the difference between chopped, diced and minced:
- Large chop = roughly the size of a nickel
- Medium chop = About half the size of a nickel
- Diced (fine chop) = About half of medium chop, perhaps a quarter inch to a side
- Minced = Very fine, as small as you can get it
I use roma tomatoes because they're meatier and yield more flesh once they're seeded. The lime juice is enough to keep everything moist, and as it sits the salt will draw out some moisture from the tomatoes too. This is best made the day you're going to be eating it, but it will keep covered in the fridge for a day or two.
- 4 tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise and seeded
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/2 medium red onion
- 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded (see note)
- handful of cilantro leaves (about 1/4 cup chopped)
- juice of 1 lime
- kosher salt to taste
- Finely chop the tomato, garlic, red pepper, jalapeno and cilantro leaves.
- In a medium bowl, add all the chopped ingredients and mix together until evenly combined.
- Squeeze the lime over the bowl, and add salt to taste. Easy, hey?
If you like a milder pico de gallo, add only part of the chopped jalapeño and taste it once you've added the lime juice and salt. Also, when chopping the jalapeño pepper, I always use rubber gloves to protect my hands from the heat.