Think of pico de gallo as a super-simple relish. You can use it anywhere you’d use salsa, only since it’s chunky and uncooked, it delivers a salad-like freshness to whatever it touches. A word about your chile options: Something green like jalepeño adds nice color here, but use whatever type–or strength–you like, even a super-hot habanero. For something mild, go for a poblano or even some green bell pepper. And, to reduce the heat of any chile, remove some or all of the veins and seeds. If you don’t have fresh chile handy, a pinch of any dried chile (including plain old cayenne) will work fine, too.
Makes about 4 cups
1 small white onion or large shallot
1 fresh jalepeño or other hot or mild chile
2 lbs tomatoes (any kind)
1 small bunch cilantro
1/2 tsp kosher salt
- Mince the onion or shallot and chile; refrigerate them together in a airtight container.
- Rinse the tomatoes and store them so they won’t get crushed. Only refrigerate them if they’re ripe and ready to eat; otherwise leave them at room temperature.
- Rinse the cilantro and trim the stems. Wrap in a towel and put in a sealable container.
- Rinse the lime (and make sure you packed the salt!).
- No more than 30 minutes or so before you’re ready to eat, core and chop the tomatoes, capturing as much of the juice as you can. Transfer to a large bowl and add the onions, chiles, and salt. Halve the lime and squeeze the juice over all. Give a good stir.
- Chop the cilantro and add it to the tomato mixture, stir again and eat right away or let sit for a few minutes to develop some juiciness.
Scrambled, fried, or poached eggs
Tangy Chicken Tacos
Instead of using raw tomatoes, take a little extra time to fire-roast them first. Here’s how:
If you’ve got a grill fired up, rub the tomatoes all over with olive oil and cook them directly on the grates over hot coals, turning frequently until they’re blistered and charred all over but not too soft; after they cool, core and chop them for the recipe.
If you’ve got a campfire going, wrap the tomatoes in foil like a hobo pack, with the ends gathered together loosely in the center to make a vent for steam. Put the pack on smoldering—not burning—coals and cook until softened. Use any accumulated juice in the foil in the pico.