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Pico de Gallo

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Pico de Gallo

Grab a spoon.

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Maybe a big one.  This Pico de Gallo is so good, you don’t need chips as a delivery vehicle.  But go ahead and grab some of those too, because the salty crunchiness kind of trumps the spoon.  Quality over quantity.

I didn’t use to make homemade salsas.  If I needed salsa for something, then I just went with whatever my jarred favorite was at the time…until we tried Chipotle back in 2005.  When one opened near us, we became regulars.  And for a period of time, let’s just say my husband visited very often. If he could find an excuse to grab it for lunch while he was out, he did.  I fell in love with the fresh salsas and decided to start making my own. It’s not that I never had fresh salsa before, it’s that now I was spoiled and had it often.  How hard could it be?  A few ingredients, all chopped up, mix them in a bowl and done.

pico de gallo set two-2

Except that it never tasted quite right to me.  I remember asking one of my friends, who happens to make all kinds of salsas, what the secret was to great salsa. Clearly, if you’re Mexican, salsa must be one of the easiest things to make because she looked at me kind of shocked that I couldn’t pull off a good one. But, in my defense, I was busy mastering my favorite scone and going through brownie trials, so pico de gallo was not on my list of things to perfect.  After two tries, I knew something was off, but I didn’t know what.

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Now I do. It was a bunch of things, but basically I was underplaying all of the ingredients that added dimension and flavor… salt, lime, jalapeno and cilantro.  I know, that’s almost everything, but if you don’t get the proportions right, and you fear making it too hot, you end up with a tomato onion salad. I’d like to tell you that I went through a few takes to figure it out for myself, but I didn’t.  I simply happened upon a recipe one day that had the exact flavor I was looking for.  And, the best part was, it had avocado in it! I could have my salsa and guacamole all in one bowl.  Perfect!

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When I tasted it, I knew it would be my go to salsa. It has just a little kick of heat, it’s so juicy from the tomatoes and lime, and the avocado adds a creamy richness.  It’s perfect over our carnitas (which I was going to share with you this week, even took photos, but I decided I wanted to work on the recipe a bit more.)  It goes without saying that it’s great for dipping your favorite chip into.  When we have carnitas, we always make Cilantro Lime Rice.  If we have a bit of rice left over on our plates, we’ll throw some pico de gallo on top before we finish it off.  Even though it’s best fresh, if I have leftovers, I’ll top a salad or sandwich the next day with it.

If you’ve never made your own fresh salsa, now’s the time.  Trust me.  This stuff is good enough to eat with a spoon.

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Been there.  Done that.


Pico de Gallo

Servings 4 servings


  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion finely chopped (I used a red onion)
  • 3 plum tomatoes seeded and chopped
  • 1 jalapeno seeded, ribs removed and finely chopped
  • 1 avocado halved, pitted and chopped into small cubes
  • 1 lime
  • 3 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro


  1. In a medium bowl, gently toss the tomatoes with the salt and pinch of sugar.
  2. Add the onion and jalapeno and combine.
  3. Add the avocado cubes and squeeze lime juice over it to coat them fully. This will help them from becoming brown.
  4. Add the cilantro and toss the whole mixture gently to combine.
  5. Taste and add salt, sugar or lime to correct any imbalances. Serve.

Recipe Notes

*See photos in the post for how to easily seed a tomato. I just use a spoon to scrape out the seeds. This will leave you with the meat of the tomato that you will then chop up for the recipe. Seeding the tomato will insure your pico does not get too watery.

*I like to use kosher salt for this recipe because the flavor is not as sharp as table salt. If you use table salt, you'll need less, maybe 3/4 teaspoon, but start with 1/2 teaspoon and add more to taste.

*If you like a hotter salsa, leave the seeds and ribs on the jalapeno or pick a hotter pepper, like a serrano.

Recipe from Food Network

The Merchant Baker Copyright © 2015



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