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Rookie Chef: Salsa fresca

blog by Kathryn Przybyla  • 

Sometimes, greasy potato chips just won’t cut it.

For the past five years, we have kept a small vegetable garden at my house on the side of our back deck. We grew mostly herbs and peppers, but always kept four tomato plants growing throughout the season. The first year, a little unaware of what we were getting into, the tomatos ripened by the dozens—all at the same time.

We made tomato sauce for pasta, bruschetta, grilled tomatoes and all sorts of tomato inspired dishes for the next few weeks. I could hardly keep up.

But one of the best that we came up with would have to be “salsa fresca.” A heartier take on “pico de gallo,” with some other vegetables found in the refrigerator, this was a real simple recipe to whip up and can be easily adjusted to your preferred level of spiciness.

Although this recipe I usually measure and mix by hand, you can also find similar recipes online at the following websites—Chow.com, Food Network and Spark Recipes.

Salsa Fresca

Total time—15 minutes


2 large tomatoes
1 vidalia white onion
1 bunch of fresh cilantro
Frank’s Red Hot
Lime juice
1 jalapeno pepper (if desired)


Start off with carefully slicing and dicing the two large tomatoes, half of the vidalia onion and about one handful of the fresh cilantro. These should all be chopped into small pieces as shown above. You can vary the sizes based on your personal preference for salsa. If desired, a chopped jalapeno pepper can be added to the mix here.


Next, combine those three diced ingredients into whatever bowl you will be storing the salsa in. I’m saving mine for a snack later in the week, so mine is going straight into a tupperware container for easy storage. If you’re serving right away, pick a ceramic or glass bowl that you can use cellophane to cover with later.


Now we can add the “juices” of the salsa. This can really vary, depending on your personal preference and how spicy you like your salsa. Since my family is a fan of fairly spicy foods, we tend to be generous with the hot sauce—Frank’s, of course. If you are more of a “mild salsa” fan, feel free to not add any hot sauce to the mix. Add your desired amount of hot sauce to make the salsa a bit more juicy. Be sure to add a little at a time, you can always add more later on.


To really make the salsa a bit more refreshing, which is perfect in the summer, add a splash of lime juice. A squeezed lime is also great to use, but since I was all out I used lime juice instead. This addition is what really gives the salsa a fresh taste. Also add a little amount of lime juice at a time. This is something you can always add more of later on.


Now you can mix up your salsa fresca and get all the flavors to combine. This is a great time to take a small spoonful and see how it tastes. Too mild? Add more hot sauce. Not very crisp? Splash a little more lime juice into the bowl.


Once mixed, I usually leave in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes to let the flavors soak into the chopped ingredients. Also, cooled salsa always has a better taste. If you can wait that long, leave it in the fridge overnight to get the most flavor. Perfect for a light snack or party hors d’oeuvres, serve with tortilla chips and enjoy.

Salsa fresca: a very good snack.

TAGGED: healthy snack, onions, pico de gallo, recipes, rookie chef, salsa fresca, tomatoes

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  1. bdewey June 04, 2012 @ 10:08am

    that looks like parsley to me?

    bdewey's avatar
  2. Kathryn Przybyla June 04, 2012 @ 10:33am

    Fresh cilantro and fresh parsley do look pretty similar in a bunch, but the cilantro is a must when it comes to mixing up salsa. The flavor is pretty distinct.

    Kathryn Przybyla's avatar