03 October 2013

Another tomato idea: Pico de Gallo salsa fresca

So many tomatoes, so little time. Here's one of the least time-consuming and tastiest ways to preserve fresh tomatoes. It's a salsa fresca called 'pico de gallo' — 'cock's crest' salsa.

The makings for pico de gallo: jalapeño, banana, or other hot peppers with tomatoes, onions, garlic, and cilantro (coriandre in French).

It's fast to make because it's not cooked. Tomato sauce requires fairly long cooking. Tomato paste takes several hours longer. And oven-dried tomatoes take a whole day and a whole night (at least the way I do them).

Home-pickled banana peppers from the 2012 vegetable garden at La Renaudière

For pico de gallo, the main thing is to have a lot of fresh and spicy ingredients: tomatoes (4 large), onions (1 or 2 small), garlic cloves (3), herbs (a bunch as shown), hot peppers (2 or 3) and either vinegar, lime juice, or lemon juice (a few teaspoons).

Chopped fresh tomatoes, onions, and garlic

Still, there's a long version and a short version. The long one requires chopping the tomatoes, onions, garlic, and herbs finely with a knife. The second, which I like, involves processing all the ingredients in a blender or with a stick blender. Add vinegar, Tabasco sauce, or citrus juice little by little until you have the flavor and heat you want.

Cilantro, if you like it — otherwise parsley, basil, or oregano — adds freshness to the salsa.

If you buy or grow hot peppers like cayennes, jalapeños, or banana peppers, I recommend pickling them while they are fresh. Poke holes in the peppers, pack them into jars, and pour hot vinegar over them. Put lids on the jars while they are still burning hot. They will end up hermetically sealed and you can store them for a long time. Vinegar doesn't spoil, and it preserves the peppers.

The salsa before and after processing with a stick blender — I made two batches like this.

And vinegar flavored with hot peppers can add spice to so many things you eat. Vegetables like greens and beans. Eggs. Soups and stews. Meats like roasted pork, beef, or poultry. Salsas like pico de gallo — which in turn is good with grilled meats and poultry, beans, quesadillas, tacos, burritos, scrambled eggs, and on and on.

My version of pico de gallo salsa

Pico de gallo salsa freezes really well — at least the more or less pureed version does, prepared using a blender. It's the kind of salsa that I remember being served in Mexican restaurants in California back in the 1990s. By the way, I found the pitcher I use as a container for processing food with the stick blender at Ikea for a very reasonable price.


  1. As I read through the post, I thought..
    "Ask Ken if the jug came from the US or France..."
    You correctly guessed that people would ask... we really are going to have to brave a visit to IKY-aaaAAARGH!!
    Hate the places... it is that funereal walk through the "showcase" area before you get to the shoppin'...
    in the Leeds/Bradford one the "Yorkshire Shortcut" [through a set of firedoors the wrong way] very rapidly became official with its own signage...
    "To The Shopping Area"

    Did you know that 'real' salsa should be made with tomatillos?
    It is wonderful made that way...
    but I use a two part approach... some gets blitzed with the wizzy-stick... but most of the tomatos / tomatillos just get chopped in the mini processor bowl that came with our Braun Wizzy Stick... BUT it doesn't freeze that way, the big bits thaw "rubbery"!

  2. De très belles couleurs..du Jardin de la France.

  3. Didn't know about freezing Pico de Gallo- love it for dipping. I use my stick blender for many things-love it and will try using my pitcher like yours next time.

  4. Next trip to IKEA - I'll be picking up a pitcher like that - Merci!
    I've always hated throwing away the stems of my cilantro. Never again. If you use them, I can use them!
    Merci, encore, Ken!

  5. So much cooking and processing.

  6. Hey.... pitcher... great idea.
    Looks yummy!


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