The ingredients for an authentic, classic pico de gallo recipe, and ideas for mixing it up. Fresh salsa can be a chameleon in the kitchen, and is well-suited for adding tons of flavor to your plate. Even if the only other food on it are tortilla chips. Best of all, this one keeps for days and is easy to prepare!
A great source for authentic Mexican food at home
I studied Central American cuisine in culinary school, but when I’m looking for a refresher course, I look nowhere else than to the master himself, Rick Bayless. He’s an accomplished chef, a successful restaurateur, and authority on Mexican cuisine. I recommend his knowledge of what is truly authentic over that of any home-cook-turned-Google-ranked blogger.
Classic, authentic pico de gallo, straight from the master
You will see many a pico de gallo recipes calling for jalapeño peppers. And if you love jalapeńos, by all means do it. But for authentic pico, serrano chili peppers are the ticket.
Pico de gallo ingredients
- Roma/plum tomatoes (I recommend organic, tomatoes are routinely on the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” list)
- serrano chili peppers
- lime juice
Remove the white flesh inside along with the seeds for a less spicy salsa. This is where a majority of the capsaicin lives, the spicy compound in chili peppers.
Ideas for variations on pico de gallo
Sriracha. A spicy red sauce of ripe chili peppers puréed with garlic. It adds a great kick to any fresh salsa. Or your routine breakfast scramble.
Mix up the herbs. Cilantro is the authentic choice, but many folks dislike it, and some are extra-sensitive to the herb’s saponins (soap-like flavors). Replace cilantro with Italian parsley if you’re in that camp. For a great bruschetta topping, lose the chilis and add fresh basil.
Add fruit. For a tropical feel, toss in ripe mango or papaya. This salty, spicy and sweet version checks all the flavor boxes!
Experiment with oil + vinegar. For a saucier sidekick to your meal, drizzle in a little avocado or olive oil, and dash in your favorite vinegar. I love the way red wine vinegar ties together the flavors of tomatoes, garlic and onions.
Try different onions. Instead of the usual yellow or white onion, try homemade salsa with red onion or even sweet onions when they’re in season. The only way to know what you truly enjoy is to taste, taste, taste!
Bust out the blender. Once chopped and mixed, the pico de gallo ingredients will naturally weep a little moisture. To create a thinner consistency for restaurant-style salsa, pulse half or all of the ingredients together in a blender or food processor.
Without a blender or food processor, adding a small can of diced tomatoes and the juice to your fresh ingredients will give you a similar consistency.
Serving up pico de gallo and homemade salsa
Whether classic pico de gallo or a flavor experiment, homemade salsa is a great complement to toasted baguette or sourdough, tortilla chips and even pita pockets. Grilling chicken, steaks, lamb or pork chops? Spoon it on, my friends.
And in that version of dinner, you could even assign the grilling to someone else. Leaving you more time for munching on chips and said homemade salsa.
Yours in pico,Print
Pico de gallo is a classic Mexican accompaniment. But take the basic recipe and mix it up any way you like, and you’ve got yourself one versatile spoonful of flavor!
- 6 Roma or plum tomatoes, seeds removed, diced small
- ½ small onion, diced small
- 2–4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2–4 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
- 1 serrano chili pepper, seeds and rib removed, minced (if you like it super spicy, add more chilis!)
- Combine all ingredients, and let flavors marry for an hour.
- Homemade salsa takes on more flavor the day after it’s made. Just be mindful of those chilis – they get hotter the longer it sits!