Pile on the freshness.
Fresh tomato salsa fresca, or pico de gallo, punches up the flavor of even mediocre (read: bland, out-of-season) tomatoes. Fresh salsa also makes an ideal snack, a breakfast add-on with eggs, and pairs with just about any Mexican dish there is. Best of all, salsa fresca takes about five minutes to make, and involves zero cooking.
This recipe hews classic: tomatoes, white onion, jalapeño, cilantro, salt, and a spritz of fresh lime. But diced avocado has been added for a bit of extra bulk and richness.
There is room for variation here. Do you prefer a mild salsa fresca? Nix the jalapeño. Are you a “yuck, cilantro tastes like soap” person? Just leave it out, or replace it with some thinly-sliced scallion greens for color. Experiment with the recipe until you find your perfect combination of flavors. (And by the way, it is not your fault if you do not like cilantro; it is a genetic thing.)
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Make your homemade salsa fresca or pico de gallo, and then let it sit for about 15 to 30 minutes before serving. This allows the flavors to meld, and for the salt to pull a little moisture out of the tomatoes. This liquid should be drained just before serving.
Serve in a bowl with chips, or as a simple side to homemade quesadillas, fajitas, burritos, eggs, rice and beans, and more. Salsa fresca is best eaten the same day. It will lose its perkiness the longer it sits. But day-old salsa fresca is perfect for eggs; just make sure the excess water is drained out before adding to an omelet.
Salsa Fresca (Pico de Gallo)
- 1 pound fresh tomatoes, diced small (grape, cherry, beefsteak, and heirloom are all good; avoid roma tomatoes)
- 1 ripe avocado, diced small
- 1/2 white onion, diced small
- 1/2 lime, juiced
- 1 jalapeño pepper (optional)
- 1 handful fresh cilantro, leaves and tender stems, finely chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
- pinch sugar (optional)
- If using, prepare the jalapeño pepper by removing the stem and slicing it open lengthwise. Remove the seeds and white membrane, and finely dice the pepper. You may only want to use half of the jalapeño depending on your desired level of heat.
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients and stir. Adjust seasoning. Let rest 15 to 30 minutes.
- Drain the tomato liquid that has collected in bottom of the bowl. Serve at room temperature with fresh tortilla chips, or as a side dish to Mexican dishes such as quesadillas, fajitas, burritos, and so on.