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First-Cut Salsa Fresca

Photo: Oxmoor House


Hands-on time 8 mins
Total time 23 mins
Yield Serves 4 (serving size: 1/4 cup)
Why salsa first? You'll use many of the knife cuts just taught: Chiffonade. Onion Dice. Citrus Seviche-Style Fillet. To get this recipe right, have a sharp serrated knife and chef's knife ready for action. You'll learn to move deftly among your knives the more you practice. Just don't get too finessed with this one. Rustic is beautiful. 


  • 1 cup (about 1/2 pound) ripe tomato, best of the season made or (heirloom, ugly, or vine-ripe preferred)
  • 2 tablespoons jalapeño or serrano chile, ribs and seeds removed
  • 1/4 cup fresh quick chiffonade cilantro
  • 1 lime, cut "seviche-style"
  • 1/3 cup red onion, finely diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Nutrition Information

  • calories 15
  • fat 0.1 g
  • satfat 0.0 g
  • monofat 0.0 g
  • polyfat 0.1 g
  • protein 1 g
  • carbohydrate 4 g
  • fiber 1 g
  • cholesterol 0.0 mg
  • iron 0.0 mg
  • sodium 144 mg
  • calcium 9 mg

How to Make It

  1. Ready a stainless steel bowl.

  2. Wash the tomatoes and the chiles. Let dry on a clean kitchen towel.

  3. Wash the cilantro in a large bowl containing at least 1 quart of very cold water. Handle it somewhere between vigorously and gingerly in the water, separating and agitating all the while. Drain in a colander. Repeat the process. Spin in a salad spinner for optimal effect (after both washings).

  4. Cut the lime for juicing. Set aside.

  5. Using a small serrated knife, cut the tomatoes into 1/4-inch slabs. Then cross-cut them into a proper dice with your chef's knife.

  6. Cut the tops off the chiles, split them lengthwise, and then quarter them lengthwise. You're quartering them so you have relatively flat surfaces to work with. Now, julienne and finely dice them. Nice work!

  7. Dice the onions. Brag about your increasing knife skills confidence. Now, look at your fingers. Still there!

  8. Chiffonade the cilantro.

  9. Combine all of your knife work in the stainless steel bowl.

  10. Squeeze the lime over the mixture. You want about 1 tablespoon of juice.

  11. Put the salt in your hand and sprinkle over the salsa with a sense of fanfare and exuberance. It doesn't matter if no one is watching. You know what you did!

  12. Let the mixture sit at room temperature for anywhere from 15 minutes (good) to 1 hour (glorious) before serving.

  13. Note: This salsa is best served the day you make it. Beyond that, it'll taste a little less vibrant and the texture won't be the same.

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