As the end of May approaches here in Phoenix, guajes (from the Nahuatl word huaxin), are showing up in the Mexican markets. These tasty little seeds grow on trees indigenous to Mexico and can also be found growing in California and Texas. They are green and earthy in flavor, with nuances of pumpkin seeds and garlic.
The seeds can be eaten raw, toasted, and even dried then ground into a meal. Today I am preparing them very simply for a salsa, perfect for warm corn tortillas, eggs if you eat them, or scooped into a bowl of homemade frijoles de la olla (beans from the pot).
Be forewarned: It is time consuming to shell the seeds from the pods. So put on a podcast and grab your children to help!
1 large handful of guaje pods, shelled, yielding about 1/2 cup seeds
4 medium size tomatillos, husked and rinsed
2 - 4 serrano chiles, depending on your heat preference (I used 4)
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
sea salt to taste
Using a comal or a cast iron skillet placed on medium-high heat, roast the tomatillos and chiles until slightly charred. This only takes about five minutes. Using tongs, be sure to turn the tomatillos and chiles so they roast evenly. Put aside on a plate to cool.
Using the same comal/skillet, toast the guaje seeds, stirring constantly so they do not burn. This only takes a minute or so. (Once they begin to pop, I take them off the heat). Place on a small plate to cool.
Once the tomatillos are cool to touch, cut into quarters. Once the chiles are cool to touch, remove the stems.
Place the tomatillos, chiles, guajes, and garlic powder in a food processor or blender. Pulse until you have a thick salsa. If you have a molcajete as I do, work in batches to grind your ingredients down to desired consistency. Salt to taste.
Add-ons: lime juice, cumin, pepitas, onion, jalapeños.