It's not always easy finding authentic Mexican ingredients where we live in Switzerland. But I enjoy the challenge of bringing authentic Mexican flavor to my kitchen using common, everyday ingredients. To be honest, not having certain items accessible has made me a more creative, flexible cook. Plus by using everyday ingredients, I'm confident sharing the recipes with you, knowing you can replicate them at home.
In a survey last year where I asked what you'd like to see more of on the blog, one reader commented he/she liked knowing where my inspiration comes from. I promise to elaborate on this topic more in the future. But for now I will say that I'm partly inspired by the challenge of simplifying meals so they're weekday-friendly without compromising the lively, bold flavors I think are so essential to our enjoyment and pleasure at mealtime. I am a spirited (and slightly sassy!) person but I'm also understated. And I want my food to reflect this. It feeds my soul to eat this way. And I think your food should reflect the positive aspects of your personality too. But we have it wrong if we think we can't get simple, delicious, and nourishing food in one meal. So I hope my recipes, and those of my whole food blogger friends I've collaborated with here and here, have helped prove that food can be all of this at once.
I don't think I was good at keeping meals simple when I first started the blog - in fact I cringe at some of those first posts! I think I'm fairly decent at it now, but I plan to continue getting better, both for your and my sake. This realization and development overtime is simply the evolution of blogging. It's just harder when this evolution is in public view. ;-) So for those of you who have followed me since the beginning and have witnessed this evolution, I offer a deeper than deep gratitude for your unconditional support and continued interest in what I have to say and cook. And for those of you who are newer I am as grateful for you because you're helping the blog grow and allowing me to connect with more like-minded souls.
Now back to this sauce. This is the nutty cousin to my Green Salsa. Both salsas would typically use fresh tomatillos - those green looking tomatoes that are not, in fact, tomatoes. But when I'm in the mood for a tomatillo-spiked salsa, I have found that the combination of fresh cilantro, lime, and green onion leave my taste buds as satisfied.
We tend to lump Mexican cuisine into one category, but there are as many regional variations to Mexican food as there are to Indian, Middle Eastern, or Asian food. This pepita salsa is a good example. An adaptation on the Mayan concoction, Sikil P'ak , this salsa comes from the southern region of Mexico known as the Yucatan peninsula. It is not, to my knowledge, found in Northern Mexico and it's definitely not part of "Tex-Mex" cuisine - the cuisine of my childhood. It's a deeply sweet and nutty, slightly tart sauce with a hummus-like consistency. I most recently served it at a dinner party to accompany orange-roasted sweet potatoes and lentils (pictured above), which I'll be sharing next week. But it also makes a great spread for flatbread, a dip for raw or roasted veggies, a sauce to be thinned out with a juiced orange and stirred through warm quinoa or brown rice, or as a topping for grilled fish or baked chicken. And the bonus is that pumpkins seeds are abundant in zinc, a mineral we all need to load up on to support our immunity during cold and flu season. Hope you guys can make this sauce and find as many ways to enjoy it as we have!
Toasted Pumpkin Seed Salsa
Serves 6-8 as an appetizer or accompaniment in a meal
Notes: This salsa is a hummus-like consistency and as versatile as hummus. Use it as a spread for this or this flatbread, a dip for raw or roasted veggies, a sauce thinned out with a juiced orange and stirred through warm quinoa or brown rice, or as a topping for grilled fish or baked chicken.
- 1 cup (130 gr) pumpkin seeds
- 1 small bunch cilantro, leaves + tender stems (~ 1/2 cup packed or 20 gr.)
- 1 medium scallion, roughly chopped
- 1 garlic clove, smashed
- 1 red chili (or jalapeno/serrano), roughly chopped (remove seeds or halve if sensitive to spice)
- Juice of 1 small juicy lime
- 1 1/2 - 2 tsp. honey
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) water
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- Spread pumpkin seeds out evenly on a baking sheet. Place in the oven to toast while preheating to 200 C/400 F. This will take 10-15 minutes, depending on how quickly your oven preheats. Toast just until seeds begin to turn golden and smell nutty. Remove from heat to cool slightly.
- Add pumpkin seeds, cilantro, scallion, garlic, and chili to a large food processor*. Process to a fine crumb. Make sure not to let the motor run too long or you'll get pumpkin seed butter!
- Add the remaining ingredients and process until smooth. Taste, and adjust for seasoning.
*You can also make this in a standing blender. But you may have to add a touch more water to facilitate blending. If you're using a small food processor (i.e. the bowl attachment that comes with the hand blender), you'll have to do this in two batches, and you may not get as smooth of a sauce.