It’s getting to be that time of year where our gardens are producing faster than we can use everything they produce. It’s a great problem to have. One solution to this problem is to share with some of your neighbors who don’t have gardens (I can’t tell you how many times I found zucchinis on my door step). But another solution may be to combine what you have into something very versatile, like pico de gallo.
Pico de gallo is something that can be served as an appetizer with tortilla chips, crackers, or even toasted bread. It can also be used as an enhancement to a main dish like chicken or fish. Just put it on top and it will send your protein over the moon. It can also be eaten as a salad substitute. And it is a great way to use your garden bounty.
There are many recipes for pico, and they are all very easy to make. I made mine based on various recipes and what was available in my garden. And you can do the same. So I’ll share my recipe but know that you can adjust it to what you have on hand and the level of heat that you want.
So let’s talk pico de gallo…
Lesson Learned 1 – I recommend prepping the tomatoes first: There’s a good reason for this. Tomatoes are filled with moisture and you want to give them an opportunity to release some of that moisture before you mix them with the other ingredients. You don’t want soggy pico de gallo. I chopped my tomatoes into small bite size squares and placed them in a strainer over a bowl. That way I could drain off their excess water. With the amount of tomatoes I used, I had about a quarter of a cup of liquid drain out of them. That’s quite a bit. And every once in a while I would stir them to release more water. Don’t worry if you don’t get all of the liquid out. You’ll get most of it out and that will be good enough.
I also recommend using either roma or campari tomatoes if you’re not using tomatoes from your garden. I find them to be a little less watery and more conducive to holding up in this recipe. But in a few weeks my patio tomatoes will be ripe (they are already starting to turn red) and I will use them in this recipe. Use what you have – you can always drain the water from them no matter what kind you use.
Lesson Learned 2 – Determine how much heat you want in your pico: Most recipes I saw suggested using one jalapeno pepper. I am growing banana peppers in my patio garden and I wanted to use those. Banana peppers have heat, but not as much as a jalapeno, so I used two of them and the pico had a nice but mild bite to it. Remember to scrape away the seeds on the inside of these peppers. That’s where you’ll find the highest concentration of heat. Here again you can choose what type of pepper you want to use depending on how much kick you want or can handle.
Lesson Learned 3 – For extra flavor add an avocado: Most recipes I looked at didn’t use avocados but I thought they added a nice smooth texture to the pico. If you plan on making your pico ahead of time (and I would not recommend making it more than two hours ahead in order to retain all of its freshness) do not add the avocado until you’re ready to serve it. Dice the avocado into small squares and fold it in with the other ingredients at the very end. Then add the juice of half a lime on top to prevent any oxidation. Give it a final mix and you’re ready to go.
Lesson Learned 4 – Choosing the right kind of onion: I used a white onion for my pico. It was an onion that I got at our local farmers market and it was mild and not overly pungent. Sometimes white onions can be too overpowering, especially if they make you cry when you peel them. This onion did not. So you might want to be careful in choosing the type of onion you’ll use. If a white onion is too pungent, use a sweet vadalia onion instead. Again the choice is yours.
And the rest is just a matter of chopping and dicing, two of my favorite things to do. Mix everything together, add some fresh lime juice, garnish and you’re ready to go. Try this one and see what you think!
Party Time Pico de Gallo...
2 cups tomatoes, chopped small
2 cups white onion, chopped small
1 1/2 cups fresh cilantro, chopped
2 banana peppers, seeded and diced
1 large avocado, chopped small
Salt and pepper to taste
Drain the tomatoes in a colander over a bowl while preparing the other ingredients. Stir together the tomatoes, onion, cilantro and banana peppers. Squeeze the juice of one lime over the ingredients and stir until well combined.
Right before serving, add the avocado. Squeeze the juice of half a lime over the top. Gently fold the avocado into the other ingredients. Put the ingredients into a serving bowl and garnish with a couple of slices of lime and some cilantro leaves. Serve immediately.