For me, Pico de Gallo is the topping of toppings in all things Mexican food. It's like your dream guy (or girl); you get some sweetness from the vine-ripened tomatoes, some flirty-acidity from the lime juice, a small attitude from the raw shallots, a subtle, herby smile from the cilantro and a spicy passion from the chilis. It is such a well-balanced sauce that it makes your mouth water when you meet it, uh whoops, I mean, eat it.
Any salsa (which simply means, sauce in Spanish) is truly the finishing touch to a dish in the Mexican Kitchen. It completes and balances out the whole meal. Pretty important sounding, right?
As a Californian expat, now European forever-person, I can say that I miss Mexican food more than any other cuisine you can find in California, even In N' Out! The problem is, you cannot find the proper Mexican or Latin ingredients as easily as you can for other cuisines in Europe, so that makes it difficult to replicate in your European home. This recipe however, can be made anywhere in the world, BUT, the ingredients are far better tasting when they grow in the warmth of the sun in the Americas.
Pico de Gallo
15 g cilantro (stems too) roughly chopped (stems a bit more finely chopped)
50 g shallots
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1 t tomato paste
1-2 T jalapeño pepper, or other pepper (can also substitute spicy hot sauce or salsa verde to taste)
875 g vine-ripened tomatoes cut in quarters
1 lime zested & juiced (about 4-5 T liquid)
1 very small garlic (1-2 g max) smashed & finely chopped (OPTIONAL)
Do remember, this recipe is the quick version. The traditional way to make pico de gallo is to take out/off the seeds, juice and skins of the tomato first. Then you dice what's left (the "meat") of the tomato, season with salt to help them extract their liquid and let it sit for a while, untouched. Only after that beginning, can you mix with the other ingredients. And even after that, it's best to let it sit for a while before using, which allows its flavors to swim together thus making a better tasting sauce. As a mom, I often do not have time for that anymore. So, I came up with my quick version...
In a food processor, place your cilantro, jalapeño pepper, tomato paste, salt, pepper, garlic & shallots. Next, "pulse" the machine until it becomes a chunky mess. You may need to push the ingredients down a bit on the sides with a spatula a couple of times and then continue to pulse, in order to get an evenly cut chunky mess. When it will not mix anymore, add two of the quartered tomatoes and pulse until the chunky bits get a bit finer. You want it to be a little chunky but not so much that you are eating big pieces of onion, garlic or cilantro stems. Remove and set into a mixing bowl.
Next, pulse the rest of the tomatoes in two batches and add to the bowl. If you want your salsa to be less watery, when you add the pulsed tomatoes into the bowl you can first remove the juices using a fine strainer and only add the tomato pulp. Because the tomatoes are pulsed in two batches, I omitted the juice from one of the batches in my recipe.
Squeeze in your lime juice & zest. My lime gave me about 4-5 T worth of liquid, so do be aware of how much juice comes out from your citrus. Mix everything together with a spoon and check the flavors. Do you need more heat from jalapeño, dice it up and add it. Or more zip from the lime juice, add more!
Dip it with chips, serve it with your own homemade Mexican creations, mix it into scrambled eggs, smash it into an avocado, or anything else you desire! It's a quick dip that is great for parties!