Pico de gallo is the quintessential fresh salsa (aka. salsa fresca). It is simple to make from common ingredients and a crowd pleaser at any gathering. Because it features vibrant red, green, and white colors, it is a festive addition to a holiday table (note: these are also the colors of the Mexican flag, so it is sometimes called salsa bandera or “flag sauce”). Use pico de gallo for tacos, other Mexican fare, or as a dip. It can also be blended with black or pinto beans to make a simple bean dip. The level of spice is easily adjustable by varying the amount of chili added.
Pico de gallo is a staple oozing with Latin flavor. It also highlights a key principle of healthy, delicious, plant-based cooking—learn to make simple, flavorful sauces utilizing different world flavors and you can turn nearly any combination of whole grains, beans, and veggies (and possibly fruit, nuts, and seeds) into an inexpensive, enticing, healthy, nutritionally balanced meal in minutes…if you know how to cook and meal prep. Because of this, pico de gallo (aka., Perfect Pico) is featured in the first session of my Culinary Medicine Curriculum set to launch via the American College of Lifestyle Medicine for FREE DOWNLOAD tomorrow!
The Culinary Medicine Curriculum is the first, comprehensive, open-source, curriculum of its kind for health care professional training programs and was designed to fill the gaps in practical nutrition education and dietary behavioral lifestyle change counseling missing (or minimally covered) in most programs. However, it is easily adaptable to a variety other learning environments, including residency programs, health and wellness coaching, and masters level courses. To adapt for patient care, patient education, public-facing education, or undergraduate studies, simply omit the portions of the curriculum focused on teaching health care providers to coach patients on making dietary lifestyle changes—the majority of the curriculum is broadly applicable.
To learn more, check out the Culinary Medicine Curriculum page. Please share your feedback on the curriculum…and the Perfect Pico!Print
Perfect Pico (de Gallo)
- Yield: 8 servings
1 ½ cups seeded, ¼-inch dice tomatoes (about ¾ pound [340 g])
½ cup [75 g] small dice white onion (about 1 small onion)
1 serrano or jalapeño chili, minced (remove seeds for mild salsa, add another chili for spicy)
¼ cup (10 g) or more finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Juice of 1 small lime
Kosher salt, to taste (optional)—I use ¼ to ½ tsp
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl, stir together diced tomatoes, white onion, chilies, cilantro, ½ of the lime juice and a generous pinch of salt.
- Season to taste with additional lime juice and salt.
- If trying to reduce sodium in your diet, omit salt.
- You can replace all, or a portion of, the tomato with cucumber for a different twist on this classic sauce.
Nutritional Info (per serving): Calories 13, Total Fat 0g, Saturated Fat 0g, Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 50mg, Total Carbohydrate 3g, Dietary Fiber 1g, Sugars 1.6g, Protein 0.5g, Vitamin A 2%, Vitamin C 14%, Calcium 1%, Iron 1%