When I lived in Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico, pico de gallo quickly became one of my most favorite salsas on the planet. Pico de gallo, which means “rooster’s beak,” is a wonderful accompaniment for fresh tacos,quesadillas, grilled chicken, fish, burgers, chips, etc. And what’s equally fantastic is that it’s incredibly simple to prepare!
You might also hear pico de gallo referred to as salsa mexicana (Mexican salsa) since its ingredients’colors are found throughout Mexico’s flag.
When I tried this salsa in Xalapa for the first time, I instantly LOVED the pungent flavor of the onions combined with locally grown tomatoes, a fiery jalapeño pepper, some fresh squeezed lime juice, and the cooling effect of cilantro.
A couple of years ago I had the pleasure of enjoying authentic pico de gallo again while I was visiting some dear friends, Chantal and Morgan, in Montreal for the first time in over 18 years. Chantal and Morgan, who had previously been my roommates in Xalapa, reconnected later in life, got married, and are the proud parents of two wonderful daughters.
While reuniting with these two lovebirds, one of the salsas that Chantal generously made for me was pico de gallo. She must really love me. As soon as I tasted Chantal’s pico de gallo, I felt as if I was once again sitting in Mexico with my long-lost friends, laughing until we had tears racing down our cheeks. Incredible memories. Priceless friends. Ridiculously delicious salsa.
Ingredients: *4-5 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced (1 ½ lbs) (See cook’s note) ¼ red onion, finely diced (½ cup to ¾ cup) **1 jalapeño, minced (See cook’s note) 1 lime juiced (Adjust to taste) Fresh cilantro, diced (Adjust to taste) ½ tsp Kosher salt
*Seeding the tomatoes is recommended so that the salsa is not too watery. To seed a tomato, quarter the tomato lengthwise and use a spoon to scrape out the inside of the tomato. Please see the pictures below. This salsa will still be delicious if you do not seed the tomato-just more watery.
**If you gravitate towards salsa that’s not very spicy, you can remove and discard the jalapeño’s vein- which contains the seeds-prior to adding the minced jalapeño pepper to the salsa. The vein is actually the part of the pepper that contains most of the heat. However, the compound, capsaicin, which is what makes the chile pepper spicy, often times comes into contact with the seeds, making them hot as well.
Directions: Add all the ingredients to a medium bowl, and toss to combine. Adjust seasoning as needed. Note: This salsa is at its best when consumed in 2 days or less.
Makes around 2 ½ to 2 ¾ cups.
This recipe has slightly been adapted from Chantal’s pico de gallo recipe (I added the seeds from the jalapeño pepper in order to add some extra heat to this salsa). If you would like to see more of Chantal’s recipes, you can take a look at her published cookbook, A Pied Noir Cookbook: French Sephardic Cuisine from Algeria.