[Photograph: Andrea Hernandez]

It's no secret that peanuts go well with spicy foods—Chinese, Indian, Thai, and other cuisines frequently pair chiles with peanuts. Mexican cooking sometimes uses peanuts in moles and other sauces, and I thought it might be fun to create a new recipe that infuses peanuts into a traditional spicy Mexican dish.

I had intended to make a peanut salsa, but found that the peanuts would get soft after being left in salsa for too long. I modified my recipe to a pico de gallo, which traditionally has similar ingredients to salsa but is prepared with less processing, which makes for a "drier" condiment.

It's interesting to note that in Spanish salsa means "sauce," something we generally expect to be liquidy and free-flowing. Pico de gallo, however, translates to "beak of rooster," which may be because people used to eat the dip with their thumb and forefingers (which looked something like a rooster's pecking beak), or because the chopped-up combination of ingredients bears a slight resemblance to the minced look of bird feed. Whatever the origin of the name, pico de gallo turned out to be a better way to add peanuts to a dippable Mexican condiment.

You can get creative with the recipe, by using add-ins like corn, black beans, or even chopped mango or jicama—just make sure that you drain them as much as possible before adding them to the mix.

Do you enjoy pico de gallo? Got any favorite or unique recipes?

About the author: Lee Zalben was a PB&J-loving kid that grew up to be the founder and president of Peanut Butter & Co. which began as a Greenwich Village sandwich shop serving nothing but peanut butter sandwiches and expanded to include the now-famous line of all natural flavored peanut butter. Lee is a graduate of Vassar College and enjoys traveling the world in search of interesting foods made with peanuts, tree nuts, and seeds. When he's not working, eating, flying, or writing, he enjoys scuba diving and training elephants.

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