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Pick Your Pico

July 31, 2014

The peak time to harvest many delicious summer vegetables is approaching, as is the time to finally enjoy the vegetables growing in your garden! One quick and easy way to utilize your harvest  while engaging your children in the process is to make a simple pico de gallo, which is a traditional salsa common in Mexican cuisine. Typically, a pico de gallo recipe will include tomatoes, onions and peppers, but there are infinite possibilities based on what you have in your garden and the preferences of those involved. Ask the children in your family to be creative! See if they have any ideas for fun fruits, vegetables or herbs that they would like to try in the salsa.

pico de galloPicking fresh vegetables together is a great way to involve children in garden activities and helps them to understand the garden to table process. Kids can pluck cherry tomatoes, pinch off basil leaves or pull out onion bulbs.  Children can also help to prepare the salsa.  If you own a Slap Chop or a hand-held veggie chopper, your children can help to chop up the veggies because with both choppers there are plastic rings protecting their little hands from the blades.

We recommend having a simple tasting with your children!  Have them try your homemade salsa and some store-bought salsa, prompting them to discuss the similarities and differences between the two.  Ask them which one they prefer and why they enjoy that salsa more.

This time of year, your tomatoes, garlic, basil, peppers and onions should all be relatively mature in the garden and ready to be used in salsa. You could also throw in some chopped peaches or strawberries for a bit of sweetness if you’re feeling adventurous. With a squeeze of lime and a pinch of salt, your pico will come together perfectly.

If you do not have your own garden, August is the perfect time to make a fresh pico de gallo using produce from your local farmer’s market! Check out Farmers at Phipps every Wednesday (through October) from 2:30-6:30p.m.

Remember that sharing is caring! Host a “pico potluck” and ask your guests to bring their favorite salsa. Another way to share is to simply bring your pico into work, have your kids bring it to school or camp, or give some to your neighbors.

Allowing your children, friends and family to see the amazing flavors of seasonal produce will help everyone to discover the benefits of homegrown foods!

For inspiration, here’s a simple pico de gallo recipe you and your children can make using your veggies. Feel free to experiment and have fun with it!

Pico de Gallo (8  servings)

2 tomatoes, chopped

1 onion, finely chopped

1 jalapeño, chopped finely with seeds removed (use your best judgment for this, especially with kids! Some children are especially sensitive to spicy foods.)

3-4 sprigs of fresh cilantro or basil, finely chopped

Pinch of salt

Pinch of pepper

Juice of one lime

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl.  Add more salt and pepper to taste.  It’s delicious as is, but refrigerating the pico for an hour or two really helps to bring out the flavors-Enjoy!

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