Recipes, Photography, Musings

Category: Sauces

My Favorite Pico de Gallo

Luscious, juicy tomatoes, bright, distinctive cilantro, slightly spicy onion and chili pepper, and tangy lime juice with salt combine to create a fresh salsa just bursting with summer flavor.  Pico de gallo, also known as Salsa Mexicana, is a beloved condiment in Mexico.  It has become a summer staple in my home, and it goes great with tortilla chips, in tacos, or as a topping for chicken, among many other uses.  I am not an expert in Mexican food, but I am definitely an enthusiast.  And with tomatoes ripening on the vine in our garden (finally!), it is easier than ever to mix up a batch of this pico de gallo and capitalize on the freshness of the tomatoes.

ripe tomatoesMy son fell in love with pico de gallo at one of our favorite Mexican restaurants earlier this summer, and I have been trying to recreate it at home ever since.  There are countless recipes out there, and variations as well, though most pico de gallo recipes seem to consist of tomatoes, onions, cilantro, chili peppers, lime juice, and salt.  Some add cucumbers, avocado, or radishes–all versions I would like to eventually try.  But first I wanted to get the basic version down, since the varying amounts of each ingredient can change the taste.  pico ingredientsI finally hit upon a version that my family and I just love!  I will share it below, in case you are still searching for a pico de gallo recipe that you’d like to try.  The amounts of the ingredients can be adjusted to suit personal tastes, but one thing is ultra-important: the freshness of the tomatoes is key.  Roma tomatoes are typically used, but since we are not growing those in our garden this year, I used our tomatoes and just cut out the seeds (the seeds would make the salsa too watery).  I like things only mildly spicy, so I cut out the seeds of the jalapeño pepper before dicing it.  If you want to add more heat, add some pepper seeds.  And if you have a variation of pico de gallo you love, I would love to hear about it!

pico in red bowlpico on benchIt has been awhile since I have been in this space, and I have missed it.  I have missed posting, and I have missed keeping up on what my fellow bloggers are up to.  But it was for a good cause–I was on a lovely vacation with my extended family, and was “unplugged” for a few days.  It was very relaxing and inspirational to be around so much nature and water.  I fell in love with paddle boarding on a small, quiet lake, and we saw loons and a bald eagle as we were paddling.  We also spent time at Lake Michigan, which is one of my favorite lakes on earth, and got a chance to go for a long sail on my brother’s boat.  Herendeen LakeMy mother coordinated the vacation in order to have time to spend with each other and to celebrate the memory of my dear father.  It would have been their 50th wedding anniversary this summer.  It is not easy to get everyone all together in this busy world, and we dearly missed one of my brothers, who was unable to come.  But my other two brothers and their families came, as well as my husband and children.  We rotated dinner-making duty, and had some delicious, simple dinners, enjoyed outside on picnic tables, with a view of the lake.  The kids had lots of cousin time, which is mostly loud, crazy fun, making memories they will keep forever.

wildflowersI hope you are all enjoying the summer, and savoring all the fresh fruits and vegetables available this month.  August is one of my favorite months with its mellowing sun and humming insect noises at night.  And with all the blooming around here, it is easy to find a bouquet of fresh flowers to brighten up any room.  Have a great weekend! Fiesta Friday is beckoning, with lots of intriguing recipes and photos!pico on railing

My Favorite Pico de Gallo

  • Servings: makes about 2 cups
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  • 1 and 1/2 cups ripe tomato (about 2 medium-sized tomatoes), diced and seeded
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, finely chopped (and seeded, unless you want lots of heat)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of lime juice (about 1 lime-worth of juice)
  • salt to taste


Wash and chop tomatoes, onion, jalapeño, and cilantro.  Combine in a medium-sized bowl.  Squeeze the lime juice into the bowl, and add salt to taste.  Feel free to adjust amounts of ingredients to taste.  Stir gently, cover, and refrigerate for at least one hour.  Serve with tortilla chips or use in tacos, or as a topping for many other dishes.  Pico de gallo will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of days, but is best when used within the first day.  Enjoy!



Fragrant Basil-Parsley Pesto

basil plant A reward of weeding around basil plants is that you get to smell the fresh, spicy scent of the basil leaves while you are weeding.  At least that is what I was thinking as I was weeding and shooing away mosquitoes yesterday.  And one of the best rewards of growing basil is making and eating pesto.  Not only does basil smell wonderful, but it tastes great, especially when mixed with garlic, nuts, and Parmesan cheese.  The pesto recipe I posted below calls for both basil and parsley, bright green herbs with lots of health benefits.  According to, basil is full of antioxidants, minerals such as magnesium, and vitamins, mainly vitamin A, vitamin K, and vitamin C.  Basil also is known to reduce inflammation and to have antibacterial properties.  Parsley is very beneficial to eat as well.  The website states that parsley is high in minerals like potassium and calcium, and like basil, it has high concentrations of vitamins A, C, and especially K.

pesto in blender Pesto is a great way to get those vitamins and minerals, and it offers variety.  You can mix pesto with pasta for a meal, or you can spread it on crackers for a delicious snack.  The nuts in the pesto add to its nutritional quality too–they add protein and the “good” (unsaturated) fats.  I usually use almonds, but pine nuts are a traditional nut to use, and I have also used walnuts too.  Now that basil is in full swing here, we will be using our blender to mix up batches of pesto!  Pesto freezes well, but to me it tastes best the day it is made.  If you know ahead of time that you are going to freeze it, a fellow food blogger gave me this tip to reduce bitterness when freezing:  Leave out the cheese when you are processing the rest of the ingredients, and freeze the pesto without the cheese.  Then when you defrost/thaw the pesto, add the cheese.

Happy summer eating!       pesto in bowlpesto on cracker

Recipe for Basil-Parsley Pesto

Basil-Parsley Pesto

  • Servings: 4
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  • 1 cup firmly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed parsley sprigs (either flat or curly parsley) with stems removed
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup almonds, walnuts, or pine nuts
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


In a blender container or food processor bowl, combine the basil leaves, parsley, Parmesan cheese, nuts, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Cover and blend or process with several on/off turns, until a paste forms.  When the machine is off, scrape the sides and stir the ingredients before starting again.  Then gradually add the olive oil and keep processing and scraping the sides in between processing, until you reach a smooth consistency.  (It doesn’t have to be completely smooth, but enough so that it is like a sauce or dip).

This amount of pesto can be tossed with 12 ounces of cooked pasta to feed about 4 people, or you can divide it up and use some for a dip or spread.  Store in the refrigerate for 3 to 5 days, or freeze in airtight containers.  Enjoy!