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Sikil P'ak

Pumpkin Seed-Herb Sauce

TIME: 15 MINUTES; SERVES: 1 PINT

This sauce was born from having an excess of wilting cilantro in my fridge. I was going to make zhoug, a spicy cilantro sauce that’s made with fresh jalapenos and garlic, but I wanted to beef it up to serve alongside salmon. I was looking through my assortment of seeds and nuts for pesto inspiration, and thought the toasted flavor and color of pumpkin seeds would be perfect. With further research, I discovered a traditional sauce from the Yucatan region called Sikil P’ak, taken from the Mayan words for pumpkin seed and tomatoes.

This adaptation swaps tomatoes for rehydrated, smoky chipotle peppers. I added half an avocado for extra creaminess as well. Now it’s a staple in my fridge—I eat it alongside fish, roast chicken, or slathered on veggies. It’s delicious stirred into crème fraîche for a rich accompaniment to soups or stews.

INGREDIENTS

1 cup cilantro, stems and leaves
1 cup parsley, stems and leaves
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for serving
2 tbls. sherry vinegar
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbls. capers, drained
1/4 tsp. each ground coriander, cardamom, and cumin
1/2 avocado (opt.)
2 dried chipotle peppers, or 1 whole jalapeno pepper, seeded (opt.)
1/2 tsp. salt, to taste
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste

METHOD

  1. Pour 1/2 cup boiling water over the chipotle peppers and let sit for about 10 minutes to re-hydrate. Remove from the water, (but reserve water for thinning the sauce), cut in half and discard the stems and seeds. Roughly chop.

  2. While the peppers are re-hydrating, spread the pumpkin seeds evenly in a pan over medium-low heat. Toast until they start to sizzle and pop, stirring often to avoid burning. Remove from heat.

  3. Place all ingredients in a blender and purée until smooth. Adjust seasonings. Thin with the chipotle water if necessary.

  4. Spoon into a jar and drizzle olive oil on top. Will keep for 1 week in the fridge.

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