Fresh Tomato or Fruit Salsa
Salsa fresca (also known as pico de gallo or, in Mexico, salsa mexicana) is fast, tasty, useful, and simple. It's fantastic with chips or grilled meat or fish but also simply cooked grains, eggs, and veggies. And if you double the recipe, you can serve this like a chunky gazpacho and eat it with a spoon. To take this in an unusual direction, replace the tomatoes with a couple cups of fruit: Apples (especially tart green ones), peaches, pears, and plums are the obvious choices, but seeded grapes, pineapple, orange or grapefruit segments, and even cherries or berries are all wonderful.
2 large ripe fresh tomatoes, cored and chopped (about 11/2 cups)
1/2 large white onion or 3 or 4 scallions, chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic, or to taste
Minced fresh chile (like jalapeño, Thai, or less of habanero) or hot red pepper flakes or cayenne, to taste
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley leaves
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice or
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Combine everything but the salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then taste and adjust the seasoning.
2. If possible, let the flavors develop for 15 minutes or so before serving, but by all means serve within a couple of hours.
Puréed Tomato or Fruit Salsa. For a less chunky version: Toss the salsa into a food processor and blend as smooth as you like.
Chilean Salsa. A little more assertive but less acidic: Increase the minced garlic to 1 tablespoon; add 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano leaves and 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil; omit the lime juice.
Salsa Cruda. This makes a good pasta sauce: Eliminate the onion and chile; substitute basil leaves for cilantro and balsamic vinegar for the lime juice. Add a tablespoon or more of good extra virgin olive oil.
Bean Salsa. Black beans are most traditional, but pintos or even chickpeas work well here too: Add a cup of your favorite cooked beans; substitute red onion for the white and add 1 teaspoon ground cumin. Let sit for about 30 minutes to develop the flavors.
Mexican Cheese Salsa. Add 1/2 cup or more crumbled queso fresco and replace the garlic with 1/2 English cucumber, peeled and chopped.