Pico De Gallo: The inaugural installment in my survey of salsa

Or: “Making myself feel better about getting take-out by adding one homemade element”

So Mom and Dad, I know that when we spoke on the phone today I said my next post would be about the lovely borscht I made a few weeks ago. But then I had a look at what was left in this week’s Box of Wonders and saw among other things four jalapenos, a bunch of grape tomatoes from somewhere down south, and an onion. I don’t know about you, but to me that says salsa. But what kind of salsa? I had a slide show of choices running through my head, but in the interest of time and the possibility of consumption in conjunction with the take-out I am getting tonight to eat while watching the hockey playoffs starting in twenty minutes, I went with pico de gallo. In case you don’t know exactly what pico de gallo is (which would not be uncommon: when I worked in a restaurant that served it, I explained it to at least three or four customers per shift), it is distinct from other salsas in that none of the ingredients are cooked. Its most basic incarnation is just finely chopped tomato, jalapeno, and white onion with some lime juice. You see why it sprang to mind. Most recipes include some cilantro. Some include green bell pepper, but that is really just filler, and I like my salsas the way I like my crab cakes: with as little filler as possible!
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Fennel Salad

I got fennel this week. Okay that’s a lie. I actually got it two weeks ago and it took me this whole time to work up to using it.

foeniculum vulgare.

foeniculum vulgare. It sounds like a spell.

I have never liked anise, licorice, ouzo, even Italian sausage took some getting used to (I got over that one eventually. I mean come on, it’s sausage.) In case you were wondering, fennel and anise are not the same thing. they are different plants, but fennel is always said to be anise-flavored. Nobody ever says anise tastes like fennel. Zero respect for the fennel. Anyway, here I was with this fennel. I was so close to throwing it out. Within a whisker. But damn it, the whole point of this venture is to work outside the box, stretch my horizons, etc., so I decided to give it a shot. Because of the aforementioned distaste for, well, the taste, I have very limited knowledge of the possibilities here. I had fish baked with fennel once, and they seem to include it in a lot of the dishes served in the Game Of Thrones books, and there is the Italian sausage thing, though that’s just fennel seed. Not that I was planning on making sausage, I’m just laying out the facts as I knew them. Continue reading