It Came From La Pico De Gallo!
Two ripe, red tomatoes
One poblano pepper, firm and dark green
One sweet onion, such as Vidalia or Bermuda
One large lime
One to two good-sized cloves of garlic
Bit of salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste
This is a recipe I came up with the other night whilst learning to cook tortillas. It originally started as salsa, but the end result was a subtle, very mild pico de gallo. (This is a good thing, as my Mom gets quite sick around large amounts of capsicum.) Trust me, the mildness and lack of varied seasonings makes it nice and light. Okay, on with the somewhat storyteller version of the recipe. Once you've got all your ingredients out, your butchers (don't worry, they go through vegetables even better than fingers ;)) and paring knives sharpened, a large cutting board, and a BIG stack of paper towels, you're just about ready. Find a bowl to put everything in - not too large, as this is the small version of the recipe. I went too small at first and ended up with poblano bits AALLLLLL over the counter. Believe you me, those little buggers are hard to chase down. I think they grow legs once cut. Anyway, the first thing to be done is core and slice the tomatoes. Good! Now, don't chop them yet, the fun is just starting! Cut all the pale pinkish bits from the tomatoes and scrape out the seed gooey. I know, its all too reminiscent of the slugs that ate your petunias. Just remember that slugs are grey and icky, and this is red and icky. Get all the pale and seedy bits out and use them for compost, or test-feed them to the cat. I, personally, would take the compost avenue (then again, I don't have a cat). Whats left is several slices of red tomato flesh. Now you can chop it! Make the chunks about a centimetre/half an inch across. Take the pile of tomato bits and wrap them in a couple of paper towels. Gentle *S*Q*U*E*E*Z*E* out the excess tomato juice. Yes, this is necessary. Otherwise you get something closer to gazpacho than pico de gallo. This is a good activity for kids and kids-at-heart, because the tomatoes are nice and squishy and the juice gets EVERYWHERE. Okay, put the tomato glob down and back away slowly. While the ball is being defuse-- er, while the excess water is soaked out, peel and chop the onion, and seed and chop the poblano, to about the same size as the tomato bits. (You *did* wash all these first, didn't you?) Okay, now its time for the fun part! Dump everything into your small bowl (not a metallic one if you can help it, some metals don't make the best of friends with acids, even those found in lime or tomato). Dont bother to mix them yet, that comes later. Cut your lime in half. Here, you have a choice. Do you use one half of the lime, or both? I like both, but I also like things tangy. For a more subtle taste, use half. For a limey taste, use half, and then the other half. Youre almost finished! If you're lucky to have/be able to find your garlic press, use it. Youll save about five minutes. Otherwise, you get to do it the old-fashioned way. Yup, that's peel, cut off the hard connector ends, and dice that garlic until its almost powder. About the time your wrists fall off, reattach them and scrape the garlic atop everything else. Use the blunt side of your knife! The alternate is a dull knife and wood or plastic scrapings in your munchies. From there, its just a matter of a pinch of salt and a dose of pepper. My method of mixing is more fun that get a spoon and stir. Either use a fitting lid on your bowl, or a sheet of plastic wrap/waxed paper/something else non-porous secured with a rubber band. Now... SHAKE! Thats right, pick up that bowl and shake it, baby! Your soundtrack choices here are Shake Your Bootie, anything by Carmen Miranda, Shake It Up, or The Stray Cats. (What? Shakes were a big thing in the 50s, and in the 80s as I recall. Remember the malt shop from Grease?) Stick your pico de gallo, still covered, in the fridge for a few hours to let the flavours blend. This is great on pretty much anything. I love it on homemade tamales, my parents tend more towards pinto beans, or just take an avocado half and fill the seed pit with the stuff for a somewhat, er, decadent salad. :) I can't be held responsible for the addition of cumin (I am the Cumin Queen! Usually...), cilantro/fresh coriander (we were out, the store was out, and the slugs ate Moms crop), or any other extra. Oh, yeah, and prepare to make more every few days as long as the ingredients are in season...