The quieting of the mind is a political act.
(Jack Kornfield, The Wise Heart – page 358)
I’m so excited about this Salsa Macha Bowl! It’s versatile – easily made with chicken or tofu for mixed households and can be adapted for small or large groups. Last week while visiting the little town of San Pancho (in Mexico) I stumbled upon something amazing at the local farmers market- something I’ve never ever had before… Salsa Macha!
Salsa Macha, hails from Veracruz, and is an oil and vinegar-based, dried chili paste, made with nuts and sesame seeds. Flavorful, yet not overly spicy – it can be used in so many different ways – as a marinade, a flavorful sauce, a flavor booster for soups or eggs or roasted veggies or a condiment for tacos and grilled meats. Best of all it’s very quick and easy to make and the mild dried chilies, called Guajillo Peppers, can be found in mainstream grocery stores. Yay!
While in Mexico, I got a year older. It was on the same day as the women’s march that happened around the country. Even in this tiny town, women gathered together and walked through the streets, smiling, proud, together. I was moved. I felt the powerful loving energy that flows when women unite. Throughout history, this has always been squashed by religion, men or culture. How threatening this must feel. But, this loving energy is what is needed to unite and heal the whole world. Look at cultures where women have very little power (like the Middle East) look at the chaos, the unbalance, the suffering. It has always been my belief that if women had any measure of power – forgiveness, reconciliation and peace would inevitably come. Men are the protectors. We are the connectors. Our hearts have less walls, or perhaps we see the walls more clearly that prevent us from loving. It is the fearful mind that drives us to build walls, to keep us safe, yet separate. But it is the loving open heart that tears down walls and connects us.
So each morning, I try to practice ( yes, it is a practice) letting my mind settle and allow my heart open, to life, to others. To help me get to this place I think of my mother. Perhaps, it could be thinking of your child or even your pet, we are all different, but we all love. Holding and feeling this love for a moment in my heart, opens it. I allow this love for my mother to expand and grow into everyone’s mother. Mothers around the world, from every race and culture. In this place walls simply do not exist. It is from this open loving place, this heart place, this connected place, that I want to live and make decisions. It doesn’t always happen. I fail. I’m human. My mind is crazy and overactive and utterly ridiculous at times. But each morning is a new opportunity to start afresh. For this I am grateful.
In this simple sheet-pan recipe, chicken or tofu (or both) are baked along side yams, bell peppers and onions. Make enough to feed your whole whole family on make one serving, up to you! While it’s baking, whip up the flavorful Salsa Macha. Serve on its own, or for heartier appetites, over brown rice, cauliflower rice, seasoned black beans, or greens with avocado, lime, and cilantro. Spoon a little Salsa Macha overtop and sprinkle with sesame seeds. A delicious, adaptable, healthy bowl that even your kids will like. (Remember this is not overly spicy!)
The BEST THING – leftovers can be heated up and repurposed into delicious tacos the next day. Store the Salsa Macha in an air tight jar in the fridge, with a ¼ inch layer of olive oil over the top and it will keep for several months.
While this is baking, whip up the Salsa Macha. Any mild to medium dried chili will work and if you like a bit of heat, feel free to add hotter chilies too, like dried Chipotles called Morita chilies, or a few Chile de Arbols. I’ve found a simpler way to gage the heat of this is to simply make it with a mild chile like these Guajillo Chilies, then add ground chipotle powder, at the end, to taste. Then you have as much heat as you want.
Another side note, you can also bake the tofu or chicken right in the Salsa Macho, using it as a marinade- but to save time here, I am having you make the salsa while the chicken is baking( instead of before). Feel free to make it ahead, or make it during the baking time.. spooning some on during the last few minutes of baking or just spoon it over the bowl. It’s great either way.
Remember to save any leftovers and reheat them for tacos the next day. So good!
Hope you are having a great week. xo
- Sheet Pan Bake
- 1 medium yam-diced into ½ inch thick cubes
- 1 red bell pepper- sliced into 1 inch thick wedges ( or use poblano peppers)
- ½ red onion- into ½ inch thick half moons
- 2 boneless chicken breasts or thighs, or use tofu filets
- drizzle of olive oil, generous sprinkle salt, pepper and cumin
- Optional Bowl Bases- Seasoned Black Beans, Cooked Rice, Cauliflower Rice, Greens
- Bowl Toppeings- avocado, cilantro, lime, sesame seeds
- SALSA MACHA
- 1 cup olive oil
- ½ cup raw nuts or seeds- pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, peanuts or almonds
- 4-6 cloves garlic- whole
- 1 shallot, sliced
- 4 dry Guajillo Peppers (1 ¼ ounces) or sub other dried mild to medium peppers.
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon coriander ( optional)
- ¼- 1 teaspoon chipotle powder (optional, add to taste for heat)
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds ( optional)
- Pre heat oven to 425F
- Place prepped yams, onions and peppers on a parchement-lined sheet pan.
- Place chicken or tofu on the side of the sheet pan.
- Drizzle with oil, gently tossing veggies, then chicken and tofu. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and cumin.
- Bake in the middle of the oven for 25-30 minutes. Check doneness, and continue cooking if need be.
- While this is baking make the Salsa Macha: ( see notes)
- Discard stems and seeds from chilies and break them into smaller one inch pieces.
- In a large skillet add the oil and heat it over medium high heat.
- Add garlic, shallot and nuts, and stir until golden, about 4-5 minutes. Turn heat to low, add crushed chilies, stirring for 2-3 minutes. Turn heat off and cool 5-10 minutes.
- Add salt and vinegar and coriander.
- Place all in food processor ( or blender) and blend until well combined, but not overly smooth. Taste for spice and add chipotle powder to taste. I added about 1 teaspoon, start conservatively. You can also add canned chipotle peppers to taste or the adobo sauce they come in, for a nice smokiness.
- Pour into a jar, and stir in toasted sesame seeds.
- To store- Cover with a layer of olive oil before storing the jar in the fridge.
- Assemble Bowls. If using a Bowl Base like rice or beans, divide it among two bowls. Top it with roasted chicken or tofu, veggies. Add avocado, cilantro and a squeeze of lime. Spoon on the salsa macha and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
- NOTES: Feel free to use different chilies, or mix of dried chilies, taking care to pay attention to heat levels. Add Chilies de Arbol for heat or dried Chipotles for depth and smokiness. You could also make the Salsa Macha first and coat the chicken or tofu in it while it bakes. To save time, here I have you make this while the chicken/tofu is baking, then spoon it on after. It's great either way.