Pico de Gallo

Pico de Gallo

With a holiday in the U.S. this weekend, it’s prime time for a summertime party. We have lots of cookout ideas on the blog, some of which I covered at the beginning of summer with my Cookouts post. Here’s one more salsa recipe to add to last week’s Deadly Green Sauce. Unlike last week’s salsa recipe, this is a uncooked salsa, and it’s relatively mild. I suspect that the way I make it isn’t traditional. It is, however, flavorful, and makes a lot. The proportions of ingredients are a matter of individual taste. The amounts below are guidelines. Some people don’t like cilantro; you can substitute parsley, but keep in mind that the flavor will be radically different if you do. The amount of jalapeños depends on the size of the pepper as much as how hot you want it. Because this is a large batch of salsa, the amount of jalapeños in the recipe isn’t as excessive as it might appear. Use more if you want it to have more of a kick. Freshly chopped jalapeños can sometimes cause skin irritation so food handling gloves are recommended.

This makes about 6 cups.

2 onions
2 med or large tomatoes
3 average sized jalapeños (or 2 large)
1 clove garlic (2 if they’re small)
Bunch of cilantro
A little bit of parsley (optional)
5 Tbls vinegar
5 Tbls olive oil

The tomatoes should be diced by hand. I use regular slicing tomatoes for this. They’re very juicy and you’ll have a very wet mess of tomatoes when you’re done. Slide it, juice and all, from the cutting board into a large non-metallic bowl. Dice the onions finely either by hand or in a food processor. Dice the jalapeños very finely. The texture I go for is that the onions are cut finer than the tomatoes, and the jalapeños are diced more finely than the onions. The garlic I run through a garlic press. Chop up a supermarket sized bunch of cilantro as finely as you can, but don’t worry about it if some leaves slip through. I use the whole bunch, but use as much or as little as you want. I usually throw in a little parsley because I have Italian Flat Leafed Parsley in my garden almost year ’round. How much I add depends on whether it’s taking over the garden. 😉

The oil and vinegar give this almost the character of a chopped salad, albeit one in which cilantro and parsley stand in for the leafy greens. I learned to make it like this right after college; I had some that tasted great, so I asked what was in it. That’s how I found out about using an oil and vinegar dressing, which I think helps the flavors to meld.

Stir all the ingredients together well. Chill thoroughly before serving. This is good to make up ahead of time; the flavor will improve the longer it chills. Give it a good stirring before serving. As a dip, it’s fairly chunky. This is often used as a flavorful addition to wrapped-in-tortilla things.

See the Cookout for Vegetarian, Vegans and Friends who aren’t too sure about this post for cookout suggests for this Independence day. Also check out the snacks, yummy dips, and salsa tags for more recipes.

Advertisements

Deadly Green Sauce

This is the hottest thing I’ve posted here, so if you think some of my other recipes are too spicy, buckle up your safety harness ’cause this is rocket fuel (though the formula can be used with other, milder, peppers, if you prefer). It’s an authentic Mexican recipe and too hot to make often. But it really has a great jalapeño flavor, once your taste buds have adjusted to the assault. I also like the way it handles the jalapeños; you don’t have to use gloves or burn your fingers on chopping jalapeños. This is a good way to use up your heavy-bearing pepper plants in the summer. It’s a very, very, basic recipe. Fast and easy.

  • 15-20 whole jalapeño
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1 small onion, sliced (it doesn’t matter how thick or thin)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder

Put the tomato, jalapeños, and onion into a saucepan and simmer until the peppers are done. Test the peppers with a fork; they’re done when they’re soft. Scoop out the tomato, onions, and peppers with a slotted spoon, reserving the liquid. Put the vegetables into a blender and add the garlic powder and 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. Blend until homogeneous. If the sauce is too thick, add more juice. Cool. Serve with chips. Warn your friends!

Terrific alternatives: As I mentioned above, this is a pretty basic recipe and if the idea of packing that many jalapeños into sauce horrifies you, there are less dangerous alternatives. There is a milder variety of jalapeño called the TAM jalapeño (developed at Texas A&M). If you want something hotter, try using habeñeros (though you might need to use fewer of them). I honestly wouldn’t want to recommend it because I don’t want you to hurt yourself. This jalapeño recipe ought to be more than hot enough for most people. This is a good formula for making a cooked chile pepper sauce. Try other types of peppers with different flavors and levels of hotness. You’ll need to guestimate how many to use since they’ll be a different size than the peppers used in the recipe. Choose a pepper (or assortment of chiles) you like the flavor of because this is mostly cooked pureed pepper, so that will completely dominate the flavor. It’s also a good way create your own custom salsa; experiment with mixing a variety of peppers until you get the blend of hotness and flavor you want.

At this point you may be curious what my own custom salsa recipe looks like. I should probably come up with one, but what I usually do is just fake my way through with whatever peppers I have on hand in the garden, which varies throughout the summer and from year to year. There was one year in which I let the jalapeños and a few other chile peppers (7 varieties total) ripen all the way to red…and it was an unusually hot summer where I lived at the time (temps over 100 on a daily basis, which results in hotter peppers). I showed up at a friend’s house bearing a container of sauce that stopped him dead in his tracks. “That’s a scary shade of red,” he said. It was, indeed. We emptied his cupboards of tomato sauce trying to dilute it down enough to use as an enchilada sauce. It was great, but we couldn’t really see the food because our eyes were watering so much! So, if you grow your own ingredients for this, be aware that letting chiles ripen all the way to red will result in a hotter pepper, and places with hotter climates will produce hotter peppers than places with milder summers. Mix and match with whatever you’ve got on hand from the garden or whatever is available from the supermarket. Summer through early fall is prime time for peppers. Experiment and enjoy!