Technically, this is called pico de gallo. Wikipedia has all sorts of interesting etymological explanations for why it’s called that. But to me, this is fresh tomato salsa. Easy to make with summer ingredients, and delicious as a condiment or as its own salad. The funny thing is, it’s so simple and easy. But it’s rare to see on the table. Maybe salsa is now universally associated with the soupy stuff you find in a jar, and the thing about those jars is that you’re constantly trying to use them up once they’re opened. So no one ever thinks to make it from scratch.
Well, as they say, your first time is always special. My first time, I was spending a depressed summer in Paris and a friend came over and said ‘hey, let’s make fresh tomato salsa!’ It changed my life. My second time came the very next day, when I invited three other friends over and promptly passed it off as my own invention. They were duly impressed, and I’ve never stopped eating it since.
Ok, absurdly easy instructions:
- Tomatoes. The juicier, the better – there’s going to be a lot of juice on the bottom of the bowl in the end, but it will be delicious. Tomatoes are still in season, so eat them while you can.
- Onions. I use red onions because they’re sweeter, but any type is fine.
- Peppers. There are four varieties displayed here, but of course there are hundreds of different kinds, and you should pick according to your taste for piquancy and flavor. Just mince finely if you plan to use anything hotter than a wax pepper. If, on the other hand, you’re the type who enjoys accidentally biting into a huge piece of jalapeño just to feel the burn, now’s your chance.
- Cilantro. Ok, it’s optional, but you don’t need to add much to really transform the dish.
- Fresh lime juice. The lemon is optional; the lime is not. Lots and lots of lime. One of my Paris friends got so enthusiastic he not only squeezed out the juice, but used a spoon to painstakingly scrape out all the flesh, until the lime halves resembled two little, dry cups.
Instructions: Chop and mix. I use 2-3 tomatoes per onion, and cilantro and peppers to taste. You can decide how finely you want to chop the tomatoes. It won’t affect the taste to have some big pieces in there. But take more care with the onions and peppers, again to avoid a sudden, overwhelming mouthful of something.
Serving suggestion: If you’ve ever thought about hosting a burrito-making party, this is a particularly kick-ass thing to make. It’s not practical if you’re just making burritos yourself, because you can’t put enough inside each burrito to use up very much. But if you invite over three friends and you each have three burritos, you’ll probably use three tomatoes’ worth of salsa. Buen apetito.