I know Cinco de Mayo was last week and I’m still talking (and eating) Mexcian food. But I wanted to pass along my favorite pico de gallo, or fresh salsa, recipe. Pico de gallo (we just call it ‘pico’ at my house) is so quick and easy to make it’s fun to play up the flavor by going beyond the traditional tomato-onion-cilantro combo.

My addition? Spicy chipotle. (Chipotle peppers are smoked, dried jalapenos.) But before I get the chipotle, let’s talk pico. What distinguishes pico from other Mexican salsas it that it’s made with fresh ingredients, meant to be eaten right away. Pico doesn’t keep more than a day in the fridge and frankly it’s really not nearly as good on day #2. Other salsas are often made with dried or roasted chiles that are cooked and then cooled, meaning they can last for several days or even weeks in the fridge.

Back to the pico: I follow the 3 to 1 rule–three parts tomato to one part each onion and cilantro. Once I have that base, it’s time to add the spice. I usually throw in one, chopped serrano pepper (fresh or pickled jalapenos are fine too) and then my favorite flavor these days, chipotle. You can find 7-ounce cans of chipotle in adobo sauce in the Mexican food section of most grocery stores (popular brands are La Costena, San Marcos or Embasa). Now you can simply mix a teaspoon or more to taste of the adobo sauce into your pico. But I wanted to have bits of chipotle flavor as a kick instead of an all-over zing so I added one chipotle pepper into my mini food processor along with a handful of dried cherries (you could also use dried cranberries or even raisins, trust me, no one will be able to taste the dried fruit it’s just a carrier for the chipotle).

And if you’re wondering what to do with the extra chipotle, save it to mix into scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes, barbecue sauce, salad dressing, meatballs, or anywhere you want a bit of smokiness in your dish.

So for those of you starting to plant your garden, make sure to save some room for extra tomato plants that way you’ll have plenty for fresh pico de gallo later. I read through several no-pain gardening tips on Motherboard. Frankly I like the idea of using raised beds–looking at the picture I could have a big pot for my tomatoes without planting my entire garden plot (I have no green thumb so I like the idea that I could start small).

Chipotle Pico de Gallo Recipe

Prep time: 10 minutes

Yield: About 1 1/2 cups (easily doubled or tripled)


1 cup fresh tomato chopped into small pieces

1/2 medium onion

1/2 bunch cilantro leaves

1/2 of one lime

1 small fresh pepper (jalapeno or serrano)

salt and pepper to taste

1 chipotle pepper (or 1 teaspoon adobo sauce)

1 Tablespoon dried fruit


  1. Chop the fresh tomatoes and onions into equal pieces (about the size of your pinky nail). Place in a kitchen bowl.
  2. Add chopped cilantro. Once the leaves are washed, I use my kitchen shears to trim the leaf pieces right in.
  3. Squeeze the juice of half a lime into the pico.
  4. Chop the pepper, being careful to remove and discard the seeds from the jalapeno (if you’re using). You may want to add just half of the pepper first and check the heat before adding more (it’s always easier to add more heat but pretty impossible to take it out).
  5. In a food processor, pulse the dried fruit and one chipotle pepper. Alternatively, you can use 1 teaspoon of the sauce and omit the dried fruit.
  6. Mix the chipotle into the tomato mixture and serve with chips or with tacos.

Your turn–are you a pico de gallo fan? What about chipotle, do you like the smoky flavor?

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