I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville writer with a passion for family travel, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark. Want to get in touch? Use the CONTACT form at the top of the page.
December 26, 2018
We recently had one of my all-time favorite meals at The Mayan Cafe in Louisville. This cozy little restaurant in Louisville’s trendy NuLu neighborhood blends traditional Mayan recipes with locally-sourced ingredients, resulting in some of the most imaginative dishes I’ve ever tasted. And while we loved everything we tried that night, it was the Sikil Pak — a delicious pumpkin seed dip served with tortilla chips– that got a big thumbs up from every single person in my family… and that is no small feat!
This Mayan pumpkin seed dip was so good, in fact, that I was determined to try and replicate it myself when I got home. I quickly found a highly-rated version of the classic recipe on the Food & Wine website, but when I made it with a few variations for personal taste, it wasn’t anywhere near as good as what we’d had at The Mayan Cafe. Flummoxed, I looked up the restaurant’s menu online to see if I could find a description of the dish that might help me figure out where I’d gone wrong. Pumpkin seeds? Check. Cilantro? Check. Roasted tomatoes? NOPE.
Once I roasted up some Roma tomatoes and added them to the mix, the Mayan gods smiled upon me. I had some kick-ass Sikil Pak on my hands. Literally! I now make this guacamole alternative on the regular — It’s super healthy and perfect for parties (no refrigeration or heating up needed and it tastes best at room temp!), school lunches, appetizers, snacks, or any other occasion you can dream up. I generally double the recipe so that we have it around for a few days. And now I’m going to tell you how to make this dreamy dip all by yourself.
Here (along with olive oil and Kosher salt) are all of your ingredients: Roma tomatoes, shallots, garlic, pumpkin seeds (they’re called pepitas and you can find raw organic ones in the natural foods section of most groceries), limes, cilantro, and parsley. Except for the pepitas, I cook with most of these ingredients all the time, so I like that it uses so many things I often already have on hand.
If you’re crunched for time, you could probably used canned and drained roasted tomatoes for this recipe, but roasting them yourself is easy and it really takes this dip to another level. Cut your tomatoes in half lengthwise and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds. Toss the halves with a little olive oil and a drizzling of balsamic vinegar, then place them on a parchment or aluminum foil-lined baking sheet sprayed with a little cooking oil. You’ll roast these tomatoes at 400 degrees for 40 minutes and you can make them in advance if you’d like. I like to whip up the rest of the recipe while they’re cooking.
Next, put a cup of pepitas into a skillet and roast them for a few minutes, stirring every so often to make sure they roast evenly. This is how my pepitas looked once I was done. Set them aside in a mixing bowl.
Chop up your shallots and garlic (they don’t have to be perfectly minced, because you’ll eventually be pureeing them), and sautee them in hot oil until the shallots are translucent. Transfer them to the mixing bowl with the pepitas and let the mixture cool until the roasted tomatoes are ready. Then put this mixture into a food processor along with chopped up parsley and cilantro, lime juice, olive oil, and ¼ cup of water. Puree it until it has reached a dip consistency — You’ll probably need to scrape down the sides a couple of times. Don’t worry if it seems a bit dry, because the tomatoes will make it creamy.
Add your tomato halves to the dip and continue processing until the whole thing is smooth.
And that’s it! So easy!
Sikil Pak is excellent with tortilla chips, but it’s also good on crackers and raw vegetables. I think it’s better after it sits for several hours or overnight, after the ingredients have really had time to blend, but you can also enjoy it right away. This recipe is a great option for a New Year’s Day or Super Bowl party appetizer. I predict it will disappear, and that everyone will want the recipe. It’s hard to find a dip that’s different from all the others, but this one definitely fits the bill!