Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Pico de Gallo or Salsa Fresca or Forget the Chips and Give Me a Spoon!

Salsa Fresca or Pico de Gallo

 I admit that whenever I experience a new Mexican restaurant the first thing I judge is the quality of their chips and salsa. Poor salsa doesn't leave me wanting to forge ahead but generally I must. And then when I think of that restaurant the first thing I think about is that poor, tasteless salsa. Or maybe it is old salsa. Or salsa made with ingredients past their prime or perhaps they are under ripe? Whatever. There are a million different  ways to wreck salsa but honestly that should be a crime if you are a Mexican restaurant. I mean, it just ain't that tough to make a good salsa.

That being said-there are a million ways to make salsa. And most of them, I truly enjoy. But salsa fresca-pico de gallo, almost the same thing, is the most basic of salsas. It is the one where if you don't have tomatoes with lots of flavor you may as well forget it. Thank goodness for the cherub tomatoes that are showing up in most groceries year round. I think they have a sweet, full of tomato goodness that is perfect for salsa making when big garden tomatoes aren't available.

This recipe is my son's favorite salsa. It is easy to make which is a good thing when you need to make a lot. It is also easily modified to accommodate everyone's taste buds. Some of us may like it with bigger chunks. Some more smooth. Others crave cilantro and some hate it. Some like it spicy, some don't. The important thing is not to be afraid to create your own. You can't destroy salsa, I promise!

Many salsa frescas contain olive oil, lime juice or vinegar. I don't think they' re necessary unless your ingredients lack flavor. Olive oil adds more calories and I don't need those. If you want your salsa thin, feel free to add tomato juice or sauce or you could add lime juice. Personally, I like to taste the tomatoes and not the tartness of lime juice. If you add salt to the salsa that will help bring juices out, too and make your salsa more liquid.Sometimes tomatoes aren't as juicy as we would like them to be so adding liquid helps with consistency. Personally I like a thick salsa so this is the recipe I use. And it stays on chips well.   A thin taste/dip on my chips just doesn't cut it. I want a big hunky bite!

Feel free to adjust the spiciness of the peppers. Fresh jalapenos left with seeds and ribs are spicier than those deseeded. Your choice. I also like to add a canned chipotle in adobo sauce as I like the smokiness and the heat that it gives. You can find them in the Mexican section of your grocery in a can labeled chipotle peppers in adobo.  Transfer them to another container and store them in the fridge where they last a long time. I use them in many recipes and they are a great ingredient to have on hand. And just so you know, a chipotle is a smoked jalapeno and adobo is a sauce of tomatoes, vinegar and spices.

Take a few minutes. Make a great salsa. Serve it with corn chips. This salsa is also great over grilled chicken or fish. OR spooned right into your mouth!

Pico de Gallo or Salsa Fresca

Makes about 2 cups

2 containers of cherub tomatoes - 10.5 oz each
1/2 white onion
1 5" jalapeno - seeded and deribbed
2 garlic cloves peeled
1 chipotle from the can (See above)
1/3 c cilantro

Dump the tomatoes into your food processor. (If you want this chunkier, feel free to chop with a knife.) Using on/off button, process tomatoes until coarsely, but not too roughly chopped. Empty into a good sized bowl.

Now combine onion, jalapeno, garlic cloves, chipotle and cilantro in food processor. Chop until mixture is evenly chopped, but do not over process. Add to tomatoes. Stir well.Season with salt if desired. 

Eat with a giant spoon!

Other things to try:
Breakfast Burritos
Red Chile
Green Chile Egg Souffle
Tomatilla Salsa
Mexican Shrimp Cocktail
Avocado Corn Soup

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  1. Homemade Salsa: I agree...Give me a spoon, definitely!

  2. We have our own version of salsa to eat with barbecued meat, and it tomatoes, onion and red pepper with vinegar and little oil. Can´t beat a fresh batch of salsa for summer outdoor food!

  3. Good pictures! I love make my own salsa (pico de gallo, whatever!). Although I do like that hit of lime. I don't usually add a canned chipotle to my salsa, though - I should give this a try (love those little devils!). Good stuff - thanks.

  4. Oh, yeah, who needs chips? Though I could do major damage to both your salsa and a bag of chips :)

  5. As long as it's a soup spoon, Denise! And Paula, I think all cultures must have some kind of red sauce, right?

    And Mr. KR, really? You know how I feel about pictures and coming from you that means a lot! And lime, that's all right, too!

    Liz, trade for brownies?

  6. I definitely want mine more spicy! This is so delicious, Abbe.

  7. I totally agree - if I go to a Mexican restaurant, and they have terrible chips and salsa, I have very little interest in staying! haha. I will confess that I don't make fresh salsa at home as much as I'd like to. We have a really great company here in my town that makes refrigerated, fresh salsa - it basically takes like what I WOULD make at home, if I chose to do it. Sometimes I eat it with a spoon and pretend it's gazpacho :)

  8. Thanks so much, Angie. Lori, I confess that I think salsa and gazpacho are kissing cousins. Great idea!

  9. I agree with you, nothing more sad than a tasteless salsa. I love how simple your recipe is with just a few ingredient. Nothing is better than using the best and fresh ingredients you can get your hands on. :) Okay, now, may I have a spoon too?

  10. Amy, I'd love to give you a spoon!

  11. Hi There! I wanted to let you know I featured you on Sugar Blossoms. Stop by and check it out!

  12. Thanks so much TJ! I'm going to buzz right over!

  13. This needs lime juice added to it to make "real" pico !