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Vegetables with Pepita Dip

This dip or spread, known as Zicil-P’ak, is a classic pre-Columbian dish. The name is a combination of the Mayan words for pumpkin seeds and tomato. The ground seeds are softened while marinating
in the tomato-chili mixture, giving this delicious concoction a satisfying texture. Serve as an appetizer with fresh vegetables and tortilla chips before a festive Mexican dinner.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw hulled green pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • 1 large, ripe tomato or 4 plum tomatoes
  • 1 habanero chili, roasted and seeded
  • 2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • Radishes, carrots and jicama for serving
  • Squeeze of fresh lime juice
  • Tortilla chips for serving

Directions:

Heat a heavy fry pan over medium-low heat until hot. Add the pumpkin seeds and, as soon as they start to pop, stir constantly until they begin to puff up. Don’t let them brown. Pour onto a plate and let cool completely, then grind them in a spice grinder until very fine.

In a blender or food processor, combine the tomato and chili and process briefly. Pour into a small bowl and stir in the ground pumpkin seeds, cilantro, chives and salt. Let the mixture stand for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables: Wash and dry the radishes and carrots. Cut the radishes in half or leave whole. Leave the carrots whole, if small, or cut in half or into matchsticks, if larger. Peel the jicama and cut into matchsticks.

Just before serving, stir the lime juice into the dip. It should spread easily; if it is too thick, add a little water. Spoon the dip into a serving bowl, place on a platter with the vegetables and tortilla chips, and serve immediately. Makes about 1 cup dip.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Latin Cooking, by Patricia McCausland-Gallo, Deborah Schneider & Beverly Cox (Oxmoor House, 2010).