To me, one of the most fascinating kinds of salsas is salsa macha. It defies any preconception that many people have about a salsa. No pureed tomatoes or tomatillos, not even any tomatoes or tomatillos in it! No onion either. Also, rather than the chiles being toasted, simmered or roasted, here they are cooked in oil. And there are nuts. Tons of nuts.
I think one of the most common versions of salsa macha is a take from the state of Veracruz that uses dried chipotle chiles, garlic and peanuts. But there are of course countless versions. In this one, I use some of my favorite nuts —walnuts, pistachios, and pine nuts. And I play with the crowd-pleasing taste of guajillos and the feisty bite of chiles de árbol.
I also add something new that I’ve never put in a salsa macha before — amaranth seeds.
You can play with your own versions of salsa macha, too: choose dried chiles and nuts that you like, cook in oil until the ingredients transform, then season with some vinegar, and adjust with your favorite sweetener to add a hint of sweet to balance all that savoriness.
However, before you play… try this one. I find it so addicting. It is toasty, nutty, a little bit spicy, and a touch sweet and tangy, with a chunky and consistency and the most satisfying crunch. I use it as a topping for guacamole, soft scrambled eggs, baked potatoes, and my latest favorite is on an avocado toast.
You could also try it over French toast for a sweet/savory version, or on plain yogurt sweetened with a touch of honey for quick breakfast or snack.
But the options are endless, and it keeps forever in your refrigerator.
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 guajillo chiles, stemmed, seeded and cut into small squares with
- 3 chiles de árbol, remove stems but keep seeds, and cut into small
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 3 tablespoons raw unsalted walnuts, roughly chopped
- 3 tablespoons raw unsalted pine nuts
- 3 tablespoons raw unsalted pistachios, roughly chopped
- 3 tablespoons amaranth seeds
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, or to taste
- Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the chiles, garlic, and nuts and sauté until lightly toasted and fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Turn off heat and stir in the amaranth seeds. Scrape into a bowl and let cool.
- When cool, mix in vinegar, brown sugar, and salt.