Let me introduce this cousin of your regular salsa… Pico de Gallo! It’s the same salsa family, just fresher, chunkier and quicker! No cooking involved just chop and toss together this munchiness that you are gonna love making again and again. It’s a great appetizer for the Big Game or any party, as well as a crucial condiment for Mexican chows. Your life can’t get much easier, read along…
Winter in Florida is when we have our best days. They are crispy, sunny and so beautiful that you will usually find me lounging on my balcony… be it planning or writing my blogs. Listening to the waves and feeling the tradewinds, siping some coffee, I am all set. Sometimes I even do my cooking shindig here. Well, of course when the dish doesn’t involve cooking. But when Mexican is cooking and my husband is taking up all the stove top space in kitchen, I often do some guac or salsa right here listening to the waves. And today it’s pico de gallo’s turn! Extremely easy, quick and addictively satisfying!
What is Pico de Gallo?
This is a classic Mexican chunky salsa that’s made in a jiffy (yes just 10 minutes) by chopping fresh tomatoes, onion, jalapeño or serrano, cilantro, a spritz of fresh lime juice and some salt. Yup… that’s it, ready to go!
Pico de gallo is so fresh that it’s sometimes referred to as salsa fresca (fresh sauce) or salsa cruda (raw salsa), as it’s always served freshly chopped and not blended.
Sometimes in Mexico it’s called salsa Mexicana (Mexican sauce), as the colors of red tomatoes, white onions and green chili and cilantro resembles the colors of the Mexican flag. Some even call it salsa bandera (flag sauce).
It all makes sense to me, except when it comes to the literal translation… in Spanish pico de gallo means “beak of the rooster”. Now for that, too, there are many theories among the locals. They say the bright, fresh colors of salsa resemble a rooster, or that it looks like bird feed. One theory says that serrano peppers are shaped like a rooster’s beak. For me, it doesn’t matter what its called… I can’t stop eating it…yummy!!
So easy, so low-key, so stunning fresh and soo addicting!
What’s the difference between Pico de Gallo and Salsa?
Both of them are a type of salsa with the same basic ingredients. Pico de gallo is raw and never cooked. It’s freshly chopped, and a little chunkier, so it has more texture and substance and is less liquidy. The regular traditional salsa is mostly blended, sometimes puréed, and sometimes even has some cooked ingredients, like fire roasted tomatoes. It’s more wet more like a sauce. Both of them are great, whatever you feel like that particular day.
Ingredients for your Pico
- Tomatoes – Only fresh tomatoes at their peak can make amazingly addictive pico de gallo. They should be ripe, but not so ripe that they are mushy or watery or pulpy. You can actually just glance at the tomatoes sometimes and know they would be good. Fresh, red, firm. I sometimes use tomatoes on the vine, or sometimes roma or plum tomatoes. Even cherry tomatoes make mighty good pico de gallo. IF the tomatoes are very seedy and pulpy you can remove the pulp and use just the flesh. I normally like to use the whole thing.
- Onion – White, sweet onion goes great in pico, but you can experiment with red onion for a little different flavor.
- Jalapeño or serrano peppers – Either will work.Traditionally serranos are used, as they have more heat. But whatever you have can do the trick. Use as much as you enjoy. You can start with half of the pepper and go from there. Remove the seeds and any white fibers, as you won’t be cooking this and you will still get the kick without them.
- Cilantro – We love lot’s of it, but it’s your pico, so you decide how much. We only use the leaves, no stems.
- Lime – The ultimate spritz that binds onion, tomato and pepper together.
How to make your easy Pico de Gallo
CHOP everything. Size differs according to your taste. Some like it fine some like it chunky, some in between.
MIX it in a nice big bowl.
SIT and let it rest for 30 minutes… though it’s so hard, as I start chomping as soon as it’s mixed.
ADJUST it. I like to adjust the flavors after it has been sitting. That way they have time to mingle with each other… need some more lime? Salt?
CHOMP if you haven’t already started like me!!
What to chomp with your Pico
Tacos like our barbacoa tacos
Burritos and burrito bowls
Just by itself… with tortilla chips.
Mix in a little mashed avocado in your pico de gallo… super quick guacamole idea… brilliant!
Do you want some add-ons and variations?
- Swap tomatoes for mango and make our mango salsa. Or try varied fruits like pineapple, peaches, strawberries, and even watermelon.
- Add on some fresh veggies like chopped red peppers or cucumber or some yummy corn kernels.
- Add in chopped avocados.
- Use red onions or even scallions for a little different flavor.
- Add extra spices like ground cumin or even ground coriander.
- You can experiment with other fresh herbs like fresh mint or parsley or oregano. I think fresh basil would also go great, which would remind me of caprese… well, why not? You can add some small mozzarella balls too…
Serving and Storing
We love our pico just after making… fresh. And it’s flavors increase as it sits for a few hours. But it’s best to eat on the same day you make it. Most of the time you won’t have the dilemma of what to do with leftovers, as it’s finished pretty fast. But if you happen to make an extra giant batch, it can be stored in the refrigerator up to 3 days, covered. It will water down, as the salt will cause the tomatoes to release a good amount of moisture over time. In this case, you might want to drain off the extra liquid.
By the way, try mixing some left over pico de gallo with your scrambled eggs the next day… yum, it is!!
Pico de Gallo, in my Gypsy Bowl… enjoy!
Try these super easy GypsyPlate recipes this coming Game Day and let us know what a hit they are… Have fun!!
- 4 large ripe red tomatoes
- 1 small white onion
- 1 medium jalapeño or serrano, seeds and fibers removed.
- 1/2 cup cilantro
- 2 Tbsp lime juice
- Salt to taste
- Chop onions, tomatoes, cilantro and jalepeño. (The jalepeño should be finely chopped).Mix all ingredients in bowl.
- Let rest for 30 minutes (optional).
- Taste and adjust.
Adjust jalepeño/serrano amounts based on your heat tolerance. If you are sensitive to it, start with a very tiny amount.
Nutrition InformationYield 8 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 21Total Fat 0gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 0gCholesterol 0mgSodium 78mgCarbohydrates 5gFiber 1gSugar 3gProtein 1g
Nutrition information calculated by Nutritionix.
Welcome to GypsyPlate! I'm Alpana, former wordwide tour manager and professional caterer, now full time blogger. I love exploring cuisines from around the world, and my recipes have been featured on sites such as MSN, Parade, Brit + Co, CNET and AOL. You can explore my entire collection of sortable recipes in my Recipe Index or learn more about me here.
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