Easy garden fresh salsa recipe that you can make into a smooth, restaurant-style salsa cruda for dipping or a chunky pico de gallo for topping tacos and more.
One of my favorite things about having a garden is being able to make fresh salsa when tomatoes and peppers are in season. A reader asked me recently where my fresh, uncooked, salsa recipe was and I realized I’d never posted this simple – yet super flavorful – recipe. Which, since I make it several times a week during August and September, was quite an oversight!
While fresh salsa is a simple recipe – if you’ve got tomatoes, peppers, and onions you’re basically good – there are many variances in flavor additions: garlic, lime, cilantro – or not.
There are also texture differences and in our house I like to make two versions of fresh salsa, just like we are served at our favorite Mexican restaurants. This may or may not be because of a certain picky eater who prefers a smooth sauce while others like it nice and chunky (a-hem). In either case, it’s a simple way to please everyone and to have the two styles of salsa available for different applications.
Garden Fresh Salsa
First up is the classic, chunky pico de gallo full of diced tomatoes, peppers, onions and garlic. If you’d like to add other ingredients like corn, black beans, (or sweet bell peppers as I did here), pico de gallo is the version you’ll want to use for those additions.
Next is a restaurant-style salsa cruda where the same tomatoes, peppers, onions and garlic have been whirred in a food processor to a much smoother consistency. This is the salsa to keep ‘pure’ with only tomatoes, onions, and hot peppers – and spicy if you like it that way. Since we do like ti hot, I always leave the seeds and the membranes of jalapeño peppers before adding to the food processor.
Note: ‘salsa cruda’ simply means a raw, uncooked sauce that can be any texture. Some recipes leave it chunkier, but I wanted to differentiate it from the pico de gallo and we are mostly served it smooth in restaurants, so that’s why I call the smoother salsa ‘cruda.’
Can you make both these fresh salsa variations at the same time?
I will often make both these salsas together because they use almost the same ingredients and it’s easy to do – half the lime for one, the other half for the other, and so on.
Here’s where I probably should confess that I’m not a cilantro fan – I think it overtakes the other flavors in salsas most of the time. I usually use Italian parsley and I like the fresh flavor it adds that only enhances the other flavors. I don’t mind a bit of cilantro, just not overkill.
Like always in making your own real food, the choice is yours on how much an ingredient to add or whether to add it at all!
While I’ve made versions of these fresh salsas for years, dealing with the large amounts of juice from ripe tomatoes has always been an issue (a little tomato in your liquid, maybe?), so I added a draining step to the recipe that I adapted after reading about it in Cook’s Country.
It’s not crucial, so you can choose to skip that step, but it does make using the salsas with finger foods like tacos much easier, since it cuts down on the extra liquid that tends to run down your arm and pool on your plate.
Oh, and our favorite way to eat these salsas is with 10 Minute Baked Tortilla Chips to put all the emphasis on those garden fresh flavors – yum!
Click the arrow for the full fresh salsa recipe (with print options)!
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