I love Chipotle’s Chips and mild Pico De Gallo. I’m odd. I do not like tomatoes but I love Pico, Salsa, etc. I won’t put a tomato slice on a burger but I’ll put tomatoes and other ingredients on a tortilla chip. I really wanted to try to make it at home but I was afraid it would be a passing fancy and I didn’t have a food chopper, which I thought I had to have to make it, so I went on the search for one. I found one at Wal-Mart for less than $10, Rival Mini Chopper. Even though the version has changed slightly, they still have one available for less than $10.
I could not wait to try it out. I checked the internet for recipes for the Pico and found a few different versions. After trying it a few ways, I have finally come up with a recipe I like and have made it many times. My friends and family love it so I must be doing something right with it.
Fun Fact….What is the difference between Pico De Gallo and Salsa? While they are both very similar, Pico De Gallo is always fresh, made with fewer ingredients cut more in into chunks, and served chilled. Salsa is cooked, more of a sauce, and may contain more ingredients. You can make salsa ahead of time and preserve it by canning it which you can not do with Pico because it needs to be served fresh.
I have learned from experience my Pico recipe only lasts about a day to a day and a half and then the flavor doesn’t taste the same and needs to be thrown away so you don’t want to make up too much at one time. I will say it goes quickly though, so don’t be surprised if your family or friends start eating and don’t stop. I would say to make one serving per every four to six guests depending on how much food you are serving with it. I usually put the Pico out ahead of the food for my guests to munch on while they are waiting for the food, so I go through more of it.
Over quite a few trials and errors, I am going to be specific about how I prepare it to maximize texture and flavor.
6 Roma Tomatoes
3/4 Cup Cilantro
(Remove Seeds for Mild Version)
1/2 Medium Red Onion
1 1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt (or Sea Salt)
Because I am not an expert cook by any means, I am going to be pretty detailed with how I prepare everything to help those, like me, new to experimenting with things outside of meat and potatoes or pasta. It is pretty easy. As you prepare each item, just throw it into a mixing bowl.
Starting with the Roma Tomatoes, wash them in cold water, cut them in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and juice. I use a spoon to make sure I have all the seeds out and then place it down so the remainder of the juice runs out while I cut the other tomatoes. Make sure you are using a sharp knife. It is the best way to cut the tomato without “squishing” it. The sharper the better, just be careful. I don’t cut the top of the tomato off until I’m ready to start dicing it, I have found it is easier to scoop the seeds and liquid out if the top is still intact.
I learned the hard way NOT to use the food chopper for the tomatoes. Dice them with a knife. It may take a few minutes longer if you aren’t used to cutting food up that small, but it is worth the extra time. I used to take me about 45 min to do a serving (yes, I’m extremely slow when I’m first making something because I have to keep going back to the recipe, I’m extra careful cutting, etc) but now I can usually have it done in 15 min or less if I’m just making one serving.
I have found a couple links to show how to dice a roma tomato that were helpful to me when I was starting out. I also have to thank my sister because she was the one who pointed out it would be easier and less of a mess to cut them instead of putting them in the chopper when she was helping me prepare it one day. Here is one link I found though to help you with a visual: How to dice a Roma Tomato
If you would like a little juicier Pico and you don’t want to remove the seeds, you can also dice it this way. Video how to dice a Roma Tomato What did we do before the internet to help us figure all of this out?
Cilantro – I can not cut Cilantro. I have followed the steps, I have looked it up many times and have learned, it’s ok, just use the food chopper! So, if you are talented with a knife and comfortable cutting up cilantro, then go for it. If you’re like me, don’t feel bad. The chopper was invented for people like us. Wash the cilantro really well, pat it dry with a paper tower, pull out any wilted or discolored pieces. Cut the stems off and throw them away. Throw the leafy part in the chopper. I usually let it cut it up until it doesn’t look like it’s doing anything anymore, take a small spatula to push the cilantro down off the sides, and run it again for a few seconds. It’s easiest to then scrape it into a 2 cup glass measuring cup so you can see how much you have cut up. Once you get more comfortable making it, you will find you don’t need to measure any more, but for starting out, for me, it was the easiest way and dumped out of the glass measuring cup smoothly.
Don’t bother washing out the chopper.
If you want to try your hand at cutting it instead of using the chopper, WikiHow has a pretty detailed example.
Jalapeno – Wash the jalapeno, cut the top off, and then cut it lengthwise. Make sure to get all of the seeds out if you want it to be mild. I throw the seeds away so they don’t accidentally get mixed in with the pepper while I am cutting it up. They are sneaky buggers and attach easily! You dice it up pretty much the same way you do the Roma Tomato.
Red Onion – Cut the red onion in half and I cut off both ends. I peel off the outside skin. Then I cut the half into quarters, throw it into the chopper, and let it work it’s magic. Yes, I know you can dice it yourself, but honestly, the chopper is less complicated for me. I throw the onion in the mixing bowl with the other ingredients and mix it all up.
Add the Salt – I usually stir it once or twice
Lime – Roll the lime against the counter with your hand. This is a tip I learned a long time ago to get more juice out of a lemon, tried it and found it helps with the lime as well. You want as much lime juice as you can get from it. I also read where you could put it in the microwave, but I never do that, I just roll it along the counter. Cut it in half and then you can either squeeze it directly into the bowl of ingredients or use a juicer. You don’t need anything fancy to get the juice from the lime into the bowl. Do not throw the lime away just yet, just set aside.
Mix everything together one last time and then I will transfer to a container with a lid and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes.
For the Chips – I LOVE the chips you get from Chipotle so I will usually grab a bag of white tortilla chips from the store, dump half the bag into a large plastic bowl with a lid, take one half of my squeezed lime and hand squeeze any last lime juice I can over the chips, sprinkle with a little bit of salt, put the lid on them, and shake it gently to distribute the juice and salt. Add the other half, using the other lime half, repeat with the lime juice and the salt, shake gently again, and you have some yummy chips to go with your Pico De Gallo.