Homemade pico de gallo topped on french style omlette.
Salsa Fresca for Any Mealtime
Pico de Gallo inspired by my favorite breakfast haunt.
Having lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, I had the opportunity to taste some of the best food culinarians could offer. Much of this food goodness lies in not some secret ingredient combination, but by including the freshest and ripest produce available. This recipe provides an exceptional salsa when ingredients are at peak flavor.
Sourcing the most flavorful tomatoes will have the biggest impact on the results of this dish. If you can afford it, I do recommend large-size heirloom tomatoes.
My Salsa Inspiration
When it comes to a great breakfast-brunch experience, Cafe Borrone (located in Menlo Park, California) is my personal favorite. They have an incredible house-made pico de gallo salsa which accompanies their #4 Eggs breakfast dish. I loved this salsa/egg combination so much I developed this salsa crudo recipe.
How did Pico de Gallo get its name?
The literal translation of “pico de gallo” is beak of rooster. While there is much commentary on how this salsa got its name, there are three prevailing theories. Each theory playfully affirms the salsa’s coloring is reminiscent of rooster feathers.
The thumb and forefinger theory
Food writer Sharon Herbst claimed that pico de gallo was originally not eaten as a savory topping; but instead on its own, by using the forefinger and thumb to pick up its small pieces. And the action of picking up a piece using one’s finger and thumb made a shape of a rooster beak. Therefore, the salsa was named “pico de gallo”.
Rick Bayless’ Pico de Gallo naming explanation
In his book, Authentic Mexican: Regional Cooking from the Heart of Mexico (co-authored by Deann Groen) Bayless suggests that the salsa has a bird feed-like texture, whereas the ingredients are chopped and minced; hence the name.
The Pepper hypothesis
James Beard award winner Janos Wilder wrote in his book, The Great Chiles Rellenos Book, that native residents of the Sonora region of Mexico believe the salsa received its name because the serrano pepper (a common ingredient in the recipe) is shaped like a rooster’s beak.
No matter how it achieved its name, pico de gallo quite simply is the Mexican salsa standard from where all other salsas are judged.
What’s in pico de gallo?
Pico de Gallo Ingredients
Traditional pico de gallo is composed of tomatoes, cilantro, onion, serrano peppers, lime juice and salt. My recipe, on the other hand, is one on the unconventional side of crudo recipes while in keeping with its traditional roots.
Pico de Gallo Ingredient Substitutions
Here’s my change-up on the recipe so to give it a little more depth.
I substituted the serrano pepper with jalepeno — jalepenos tend to be more available at markets and milder on the heat scale. I also added bell pepper for added crunch. And make the crudo a little more special, I also included lime zest and garlic.
California Pico de Gallo Recipe
- 3 large Ripe Tomatoes, chopped
- 2 large Jalapeño peppers, cored and minced
- 1/3 cup Cilantro, chopped
- 4 mini Sweet peppers (orange or yellow), cored and finely chopped (optional)
- 1/2 Green Bell Pepper (optional)
- 1/2 Yellow or Red Onion
- 1/2 Lime Lime Juice
- 1/2 Lime Lime Zest
- 1 Garlic clove, minced
- Salt, to taste