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Walnut-Habanero Salsa with Roasted Garlic and Orange

[Photograph: Suzanne Lehrer]

Adding roasted garlic to salsa instantly creates creaminess. Your guests will undoubtedly ask you what's responsible for the consistency; the roasted garlic flavor is subtle enough to conceal itself as the secret ingredient.

What I love most about this salsa (aside from watching friends trying to scrape out every last bite) is its balance of flavor. The toasted quality of the garlic and nuts tempers the boldness of the habanero and orange juice, so no one flavor is too strong.

Habaneros rank as some of the spiciest chiles, and they can be roasted to mellow out their spiciness. I love the brightness of habaneros, both in taste and color, so I decided to leave them raw. The sweetness and acidity of the orange juice counters the heat enough that this is about medium spicy, and even less so after it sits.

I would recommend serving this immediately at room temperature—the creamy white color doesn't hold up for too long in the refrigerator.

About the Author: Suzanne Lehrer is a writer and recipe developer in New York and a recipe editor for Cooking Channel. When not curating her budding hot sauce collection, she puts her French Culinary Institute education to good use in kitchens all around town. Follow her recipes and cooking adventures at TheSuzChef.com and on twitter @the_suzchef

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