Tomatoes and Pico de Gallo…
Here we are in the midst of summer…the heat is on outside so how about a recipe that requires no “heat” in the kitchen? Sounds like a game plan to me.
This is the time of year when our gardens, no matter how big or small, really start kicking into gear. The most common summer vegetable is the tomato and you guessed it, the tomato is the main ingredient in Pico de Gallo.
Where do you get the best tasting tomato? Why out of your own backyard, of course! Nothing compares to the fresh summer tomato eaten perfectly ripe and raw.
Not all of us has the time, resource and sometimes even the strength to produce homegrown veggies. Do not fear friends, the same taste is out there if you’re willing to hunt it down. Farmers markets are in full swing right now. Family farm roadside stands are chock-full of summer produce and are waiting for you to stop by. Of course another option is organic tomatoes sometimes the cost is a little higher for these gems, but there is something to be said about the taste of organic produce that really makes it stand out.
Now where was I, oh yes, the Pico de Gallo…
Pico de Gallo, literally means Rooster’s Beak. The history behind the name is one well hidden, after quite a bit of searching I only was able to find a few possible explanations as to where the name originates…
The first notion is that the shape of the peppers used in the recipe resemble a rooster’s beak. Another possible reason is that some claim the taste of the peppers used in the recipe are so hot it will make you feel like your tongue was “bit by a rooster.” The last idea (which is my favorite,) is that since Pico de Gallo is a food that is eaten by hand, the shape of your fingers naturally bend into the form of a rooster’s beak as you are picking it up to eat it.
Okay everybody really quick, hold your thumb and forefinger together like you are holding a chip and you will see that the hand does indeed look like a rooster’s beak and his comb.
If anyone reading this article knows of any additional history regarding origination of the name of Pico de Gallo, please let me know and I will gladly add it to this article. –LB
Pico de Gallo is a fresh salsa, sometimes referred to as Salsa Fresca. I have eaten Pico de Gallo all of my life and have gotten so comfortable with it I just call it Pico. (Yes, we are that close!!!)
Regardless of how you refer to it, the ingredients are simple and the taste outstanding. It can be eaten as a salsa with chips or as a relish or chutney type topping on foods such as fish, eggs, tacos, carnitas, and quesadíllas. Whatever you do with it, it all adds up to one word… yumm!!!
Here is a basic recipe for Pico de Gallo, please keep in mind that “tweaking” this recipe to your own taste is highly recommended. By all means- have a little fun with it!!!
Pico de Gallo
About 4 servings
3 cups diced Roma tomatoes
1 cup diced white onion
½ cup cilantro – well chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon salt
Juice from ½ of a lime
Prepare everything as mentioned above (doing the work by hand is the most traditional method,) mix together in a large bowl, cover and refrigerate for as long as you can stand to wait!
There really are no rules when making Pico. Roma tomatoes or any tomato, take advantage of what you have. I’ve made use of many different types of tomatoes, however, Roma is the most common variety for this recipe. You can even mix and match tomatoes and it all tastes good.
Cilantro lovers unite…I use quite a bit more than a half cup, my family prefers it that way.
Yellow, sweet, red or white, any onion will suffice.
Don’t have time to go fetch a lime? Squeeze a lemon, it will do just fine.
Also, there are other ingredients you can add such as minced garlic or bell peppers or both, getting creative that is half the fun.
Important side note: if you have never dabbled in jalapeno peppers, here some tips to heed. If your skin is sensitive, you may want to wear a glove. If you don’t have a glove just be careful to not handle the inside of the pepper too much. Cut the jalapeno in half and use a small spoon to remove the seed.
Avoid wiping your eyes or brow when you have finished removing the seeds from the peppers. Wash your hands as well as you can if bare handed and then still avoid the eyes for at least a half an hour. Trust me, I am speaking from experience.
Large batches? That is all we ever make anymore at my home. We will eat so much Pico that everyone will tell me not to worry about making tacos. If there is any leftover, there’s always a battle over who will get to savor it again in the morning. Yes, you read right, I did say in the morning. Eat whatever is left soon, because the tomatoes just don’t have the same texture after sitting too long.
A good chip is important! Try to find the most authentic, high quality chips you can. Up here in the Northwest I have discovered the most delicious corn tortilla chips that I have ever tasted. I am not exaggerating either, anyone who has ever ate them will tell you the same.
Juanita’s Fine Foods produces their product out of Hood River, Oregon in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. It might be one of Oregon’s best kept secrets, but I am letting it out of the (chip)bag just for you.
I wasn’t going to brag about these particular chips but I checked out their website and discovered they will ship the chips right to your front door. Gluten free and all.
The chips are shipped by the case and that might sound like a lot of chips to eat, but believe me, Juanita’s chips won’t be around very long.
Juanita’s has no idea I am mentioning them in this article. I just truly love those chips and I know you will too.
Here is the link to Juanita’s Fine Foods.
There is also a store locator by zip code entry on their website.
Have fun with your Pico de Gallo,
Lynne Brock lives with her family in the mountains of Umpqua River Valley in southern Oregon. As the mother of four children Lynne is no stranger to a home full of busy activities. Claiming her kitchen as the “hub of the home,” Lynne enjoys writing lighthearted, informative articles that are based off of her own family’s exploits.
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