I’ve been cooking a lot of Mexican food, most of it doesn’t make it onto the blog — because I don’t measure ingredients, I just do a dash-of-this a dash-of-that which makes for terrible recipes. However with all that cooking, I have noticed one thing — the key to the Mexican Kitchen, in my mind, is Pico de Gallo (or Salsa Mexicana as it’s called here). It’s the starting point for week. You make a big batch, you put in the fridge and as you’re making tacos, quesadillas, burritos, rice and beans, asado, or pretty much anything, you pull out your pico and throw a little in. Besides corn tortillas, it’s basically the most important staple you can have in your kitchen.

There are a few things to get right on Pico de Gallo. First, it should be red, green and white. There needs to be enough cilantro (I used to use too little) and not too much onion. I like spring onions because they are milder, but you can use a half of a white onion instead. Your tomatoes have to be ripe. The quality of your produce makes all the difference, it’s one of the best parts of living in Mexico because there’s tons of fresh produce and it’s all really cheap. For example, two pounds of roma tomatoes cost about $1.

I like to make a lot of it, because I use it everyday and it’s a pain to make pico every night. There’s a lot of things you can do with it, which I listed on the bottom of the recipe. This recipe makes about 3-4 cups.

Ingredients:

9 roma tomatoes diced

8 spring onions diced (two bunches)

1 bunch of cilantro finely chopped (1/2 cup firmly packed leaves)

1 large clove of garlic very finely chopped

3 limes

1 habanero pepper very finely chopped (optional)

All you do is chop everything up, mix it together in a bowl and squeeze the lime over it. The most time consuming part is the chopping.

For the tomatoes, I take out the seeds and mushy bits on the interior and just toss them.

I do a really rough chop of the green onions and remove the stems.

Then that’s it, if you’re gotten the mix right it should have a balanced amount of red, green and white (like the Mexican flag, which I’ve been told that’s why it’s called Salsa Mexicana here in Mexico, when it’s Pico de Gallo everywhere else).

It will keep in your refridgerator for up to two weeks.

Yum.

Things to do with your Salsa Mexicana:

  • Eat it with tortilla chips
  • Eat it with a soft fresh cheese and warm tortillas
  • Combine about 1 cup of it plus three fork-smushed ripe avocados for instant guacamole
  • Add one tomato plus 1 cup of it and cook it on low heat until everything is soft, put it in your blender for instant salsa.
  • Take that salsa and add 1 roast dried chiptole pepper for chiptole salsa
  • Roast 3-4 tomatillos and cook 1 cup of it on low heat and blend for salsa verde (add a little more cilantro to taste)
  • Use it in quesadillas, burritos, enchiladas, tacos, tortas, tostados, tortilla espanola, eggs/omelets
  • Put some in with cheese on low heat and make a cheese dip
  • Mix with plain low-fat yogurt for a healthy veggie dip
  • Add some mango or pineapple for a quick fruit salsa