Walnut-Habanero Salsa With Roasted Garlic and Orange Recipe

Walnut-Habanero Salsa With Roasted Garlic and Orange Recipe

[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.

  • Yield:serves 6 to 8
  • Active time: 10 minutes
  • Total time:50 minutes


  • 1 head garlic, top third sliced off to expose cloves
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 heaping cup walnuts
  • 2 habaneros, seeded
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (from 1 1/2 to 2 oranges)


  1. 1.

    Heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place garlic in square of foil; drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Wrap in foil and roast until tender and squeezeable, about 45 minutes. Let cool, and then squeeze out garlic. Reserve 5 cloves for salsa and save the rest for another use.

  2. 2.

    Meanwhile, toast walnuts in dry skillet over medium heat, shaking frequently, until light brown and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Transfer to plate to cool. Combine walnuts and habaneros in blender or food processor; pulse to chop. Add garlic and orange juice; pulse to combine until well mixed but still a little chunky. Season to taste with salt. Serve immediately, or refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours, then let come to room temperature before serving.