You’ll be amazed at how the complex flavors of salsa macha shift depending on what you pair it with. Sometimes the heat is front and center, but other times a hint of peanuts and sesame will really come through — there might even be a little sweetness to surprise you!
A salsa dish with nuts and seeds doesn’t quite sound like what we’re used to, but salsa macha has found international popularity over the last few years — and for good reason! This traditional dish from the Veracruz region of Mexico can be enjoyed any time of day. I was recently in Mexico traveling and rounding up recipe ideas and tasted this salsa many times with slight variations.
I like to roast the peanuts, pepitas, almonds, and sesame seeds to intensify the nutty flavors and bring out some hidden sweetness that pairs fabulously with the heat from the chiles. Definitely take the extra time for this step — it makes a world of difference!
INGREDIENT NOTES AND SUBSTITUTIONS
- Peanuts – Add a lot of flavor and a little bit of crunch to this salsa. You can use roasted or unroasted, but opt for unsalted varieties without any extra seasonings.
- Pepitas – These pumpkin seeds are softer than peanuts and add some extra color to the bowl. Feel free to leave these out if you prefer.
- Almonds – A subtler nutty flavor, almonds balance a little sweetness with the other ingredients.
- Sesame Seeds – These tiny seeds pack in a lot of nutty flavor! Opt for raw since you’ll be toasting them yourself.
- Garlic – Don’t try to substitute minced or paste here — fresh cloves make a big impact on the flavor of the dish.
- Vegetable Oil – Neutral tasting oil that doesn’t pull attention away from stronger flavors. Olive oil can be used in place of vegetable oil in a pinch.
- Guajillo Chiles – A relatively mild hot pepper with fruity flavors.
- Chiles de Arbol – Much hotter than a jalapeno with a nutty flavor.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – Preserves your salsa while adding a sour but slightly fruity hint of flavor.
HOW TO MAKE SALSA MACHA
1. Dry Toast Your Seeds. Add peanuts, pepitas, almonds and sesame seeds to a dry skillet over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes, shaking occasionally to keep from burning. Remove from heat.
2. Cook Garlic. In another skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add garlic and stir, being careful to avoid burning. Cook for several minutes until the garlic darkens to a golden brown.
3. Add Chiles. Reduce heat to low and add chopped chiles. After one minute, add the toasted nuts and seeds, stirring constantly for another minute. When the chiles are dark red, remove from heat. (Overcooking chiles can create a bitter taste.)
4. Combine Remaining Ingredients. Add chile mixture, salt, vinegar, and water to a bowl. Blend until smooth using an immersion blender, or transfer everything to a standard blender instead.
5. Season & Serve. Season to taste and serve warm or cold. Let cool completely before sealing tightly and storing in the refrigerator.
What Is Salsa Macha Made Of?
Nuts, seeds, garlic, and chiles make up most of this recipe, with two varieties of chiles giving this salsa its dark, red coloring. Many store-bought salsas contain tomatoes that result in a brighter red color, but you won’t find any tomatoes in this version!
How Long Does Homemade Salsa Last?
Salsa macha can be kept in the refrigerator in a sealed container for 3-4 weeks. Unlike some other salsas, this dip is oil-based, so it will thicken in the fridge. Allow it to sit on the counter for a few minutes so the oil can soften, then give it a good stir to recombine. You can also freeze leftovers in ½ cup portions to thaw more easily, but be sure to use it within 5-6 months.
What Do You Eat With Salsa Macha?
This recipe is a delicious addition to any number of foods — fish, chicken, steak, and even beans are enhanced by the flavors and textures of salsa macha. Drizzle some on your eggs in the morning, or scoop up a mouthful with your favorite tortilla chips for an afternoon snack. Use this in place of your regular salsa with tacos and quesadillas, too. When in Urique, a town in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua, we ate this with chips and jicama! So good.
- 1/2 cup peanuts
- 1 tbsp peptitas (roasted pumpkin seeds) (optional)
- 1 tbsp slivered almonds
- 2 ounces raw sesame seeds
- 2 ounces cloves garlic
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
- 1 ounce dried guajillo chiles remove stems, seeds and break into pieces
- 1 ounce dried chiles de arbol remove stems, seeds and break into pieces
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup water
- Dry toast peanuts, pepitas, almonds in a skillet for 2 minutes then add sesame seeds and toast another minute.
- In another deep skillet, fry garlic several minutes in the vegetable oil until golden.
- Next add the chiles to the garlic and fry 1 minute on low. Add toasted nuts/seeds and fry another minute until chiles are slightly dark red. Stir constantly. Do not burn or salsa macha will be bitter.
- Pour into a container with the salt, vinegar and water then pulse using an immersion blender until desired consistency (or use a blender). Season to taste.
- Great served as a dipping salsa with tortilla chips, drizzled over grilled fish, chicken and steaks. Fantastic served with eggs, too.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.