Ahhhh summer! The time for lazy long weekends, backyard barbecues and sunny patio sits. You’ve probably already got your summer sipper picked out (hint: it might be one of these seven cocktails), so as a public service, we decided to share the perfect snack to go along with a chilled drink: salsa.
Pico de gallo, also known as salsa fresca, is a crunchy, piquant condiment made with ingredients you probably already have in the fridge. It pairs deliciously with everything, from tortilla chips to ceviche, and comes together quickly—meaning there’s more time to be outside rather than in the kitchen. To get the 411 on putting out your best version, we turned to salsa master, Jose Hadad, owner of Mad Mexican Taco House & Market in Toronto.
Choose the right ingredients
It’s all about the tomato when it comes to pico de gallo. And Hadad’s variety of choice is the humble Roma. “It has more flesh, which is sturdier and not as watery,” he explains. And trust us, you want a tomato with structural integrity. The traditional recipe calls for white Spanish onion, but you can switch it out for a red onion if that’s all you have on hand. The same goes for the choice of acid: either lime or lemon juice works.
Be patient—let it sit and handle with care
The proverbial all good things come to those who wait applies to pico de gallo, too. Once the salsa ingredients have been introduced to each other, stash them away in the fridge for about 20 to 30 minutes for them to get to know each other (you know, maybe exchange last names). “This allows all the flavours to come out,” Hadad says. Before serving, mix the pico de gallo again—albeit lightly—so you don’t damage the flesh of the tomatoes.
Be brave and get creative
Love the heat? Swap out the jalapeno for a habanero. Want to add some smokiness? “Put a couple of jalapeños in a pan with a little oil, salt and pepper and blister them,” Hadad says. “Then chop them up and add them to the pico de gallo.”
As always, serve it by the bowlful with tortilla chips for a snack, but don’t just stop there. Add it to warm Mexican tortas for a crisp bite, as a topping for tacos or even for a touch of freshness to simple pasta tossed with tomato sauce. “Go wherever your imagination takes you, this is a very versatile salsa,” Hadad concludes.
Pico de Gallo
Ease of preparation
- 2 cups Roma tomatoes, diced
- ½ cup white Spanish onion, chopped fine
- 1 jalapeño, deveined and chopped finely (Add more or less, depending on your heat meter)
- ½ cup of coriander, chopped finely
- 2 tbs of lime or lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- Mix the tomatoes, coriander, onion and jalapeño in a bowl.
- Add the lime or lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.
- Mix and then let sit in the fridge for a minimum of 20 minutes.
- Before serving, lightly mix the pico de gallo.
Note: This recipe is based on the writer’s palate and ingredients can be scaled up or down based on what taste buds prefer.