This salsa might become your new favorite condiment, as its spicy-sweet-tart flavor and chunky texture can make any dish shine. The recipe is ripe for experimentation: As cookbook author Pati Jinich writes, “Choose the dried chiles and nuts that you like, cook in oil until the ingredients change color and smell toasty, then season with vinegar and your favorite sweetener.”
Jinich likes to include tiny amaranth seeds, which are popular in Mexican sweets, but if you can’t easily find them, use sunflower or sesame seeds instead. Apply the salsa pretty much anywhere, but it’s especially stellar on guacamole or avocado toast (see related recipe), hummus, soups, eggs — even ice cream. Note that the flavor continues to develop and deepen with time, so while it’s great immediately, it’s even better after a day or two.
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Storage: While traditional recipes for salsa macha suggest refrigerating for up to 1 month or more, food-safety experts recommend refrigerating this for no more than 1 week or freezing for up to 6 months. (Tip: Freeze what you’re not going to eat in within 1 week, and thaw 1/2 cup to 1 cup at a time to then use within a week.)
Where to Buy: Most well-stocked supermarkets carry a good selection of dried chiles, but you can find an even wider selection in Latin or international groceries. Amaranth seeds can be found in natural foods stores or Latin or international groceries.
- 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup neutral vegetable oil, such as sunflower
- 5 dried ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded and cut with scissors into small pieces
- 4 to 5 dried chiles de arbol, stemmed and cut with scissors into small pieces (with seeds)
- 6 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1/3 cup raw unsalted walnuts
- 1/3 cup raw unsalted pistachios
- 1/3 cup raw unsalted pine nuts
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, plus more to taste
- 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar or grated piloncillo, plus more to taste
- 1 teaspoon fine salt, plus more to taste
- 1/3 cup hulled raw unsalted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
- 1/3 cup amaranth seeds (may substitute sunflower or sesame seeds)
In a medium skillet over medium heat, heat the olive and vegetable oils until shimmering. Add the ancho chiles, chiles de arbol, garlic, walnuts, pistachios and pine nuts, and cook, stirring, until the garlic is lightly browned and the mixture is fragrant, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the vinegar, sugar and salt to combine. Stir in the pumpkin and amaranth seeds. Taste, and season with more vinegar, sugar and/or salt as needed.
Let the mixture sit for 10 to 15 minutes, to slightly cool and infuse with flavor. Transfer to the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times until coarsely ground. Use immediately, if desired, or transfer to a lidded jar with and refrigerate until needed.
Per serving (2 tablespoons)
Calories: 197; Total Fat: 19 g; Saturated Fat: 2 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 100 mg; Carbohydrates: 6 g; Dietary Fiber: 1 g; Sugar: 1 g; Protein: 2 g
This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.
Adapted from “Treasures of the Mexican Table” by Pati Jinich (Harvest, 2021).
Tested by Joe Yonan; email questions to email@example.com.
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