When I first imported myself into southern Alberta from Mesa, Arizona, I was sure I would die within weeks. Not from the sub-freezing temperatures, gale-force winds, or absurd quantities of snow to be shoveled…
…but because of the lack of decent Mexican food within a seemingly million-mile radius.
Do me a favor: Google™ the phrase “Lethbridge Alberta Mexican food,” and have a good laugh with me. There is one (read it: 1) Mexican-themed restaurant [El Comal] to service a population upwards of 80,000 people. Some might say it tells a lot about the food preferences of southern Albertans, but I’d like to think better of these people; maybe folks here suffer from heartburn more than average. In which case, I would never blame a person for trying to avoid acid indigestion.
At any rate, there seems to be a serious shortage in this city, and I am setting about to change it.
See, where I come from, no party can be considered even marginally tolerable without tortilla chips and salsa on the table in abundance. Surely—surely—such is also the case up here…right? Either way, given the fact that the Superbowl is approaching in just a few weeks, I am determined to help each and every one of you make your party a smashing success, by imposing my ideals and standards onto you. They’re guaranteed to work, or your money back—er, rather…they’ll just work and that’s final.
The recipe I’m presenting today is called pico de gallo (pronounced PEEK-oh day GUY-oh), and directly translated means “rooster’s beak,” [but that’s kind of creepy so we’ll just think of it as a fresh, chunky uncooked salsa]. It is a simple, straightforward recipe that costs well under $10.00 to make, and is completely customizable. For example, if you can’t handle the heat, omit some—or all—of the jalapeños; if you’d rather taste lime over lemon, by all means, use limes.
Don’t these ingredients look happy about their fate? They should be—on the hierarchy of condiments, pico definitely ranks #1 for deliciousness.
I generally serve pico de gallo simply aside a bowl of tortilla chips, but it’s also delicious mixed into guacamole, as a garnish for nachos, or in place of dressing on taco salad.
Pico de Gallo
Serves 4-6 (can easily be doubled or tripled to suit your needs)
Approximate 20 minutes prep; 1 to 12 hours chill
4-5 tomatoes (avoid Walmart’s™ pithy ones at all costs; I prefer Costco’s)
1/4 c. white or yellow onion
1/4 cup cilantro (available in most produce sections, but Walmart™ tries to pass flat-leaf parsley off as cilantro, so again, beware)
jalapeños (fresh or canned, optional)
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 tsp. garlic salt, (or to taste)
1. Finely chop tomatoes and onions; mix in large bowl.
2. Roughly chop cilantro; add to bowl.
3. Dice jalapeños finely (Use 1/2 a pepper for a moderate kick. Start with less and add more as necessary). Incorporate into mixture.
4. Squeeze juice of 1 lemon (fresh or bottled) into bowl; mix well.
5. Starting with 1/4 tsp, add garlic salt to taste. (Remember most tortilla chips come salted, so don’t overdo. Taste with chips before adding any more salt.)
I embrace sodium of every kind, so I started out with 1/2 tsp. of garlic salt. Also, see my stainless steel measuring spoon? I searched long and hard for just the right set, and I’m glad I did. They make me happy.
6. When pico has reached desired flavor, cover and chill for at least an hour (but up to 12 hours) in advance. Flavours will intensify over time, but after 12 hours tomatoes can tend to become rather soggy. Pico will keep for several days refrigerated, but is at it’s party-serving peak on day one.