Mike Isabella is an inquisitive man. The last time we checked in with him, he was perfecting Italian-American cuisine at his first restaurant, Graffiato. Earlier this year, he switched continents, moving from Europe to the Americas with Bandolero. The restaurant is a product of more than eight years of research and a love for the margarita (his secret is finishing the classic drink with a mezcal float). Isabella's creamy, flavor-packed take on a traditional Aztec pumpkin-seed dip is delicious proof of his intensive research. Plus, the dip is darn good paired with chips and a sweet-smoky margarita.
Sikil Pak (Pumpkin-Seed Dip)
Recipe adapted from Mike Isabella, Bandolero, Washington, D.C.
Yield: 1½ cups
Cook Time: 5 minutes
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 medium shallots, finely chopped
2 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 medium jalapeño, finely chopped
1 cup roasted and salted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
¼ cup loosely packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
¼ cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup water
1 teaspoon orange zest
Tortilla chips or pita chips, for serving
1. In a large skillet set over medium heat, add the canola oil. Once the oil is hot, add the shallots, garlic and jalapeño and cook until soft and translucent, 4 to 5 minutes.
2. Transfer the mixture to a food processor and add the pumpkin seeds, parsley, cilantro and lime juice. Turn the food processor on and gradually add the olive oil, then slowly add the water, processing for 1 minute after the water is added. Stop the food processor and transfer the dip to a serving bowl. Use a rubber spatula to stir in the orange zest, then season with salt. Serve at room temperature with tortilla chips.