Photography by Tracey Creed
Recipe by Amandine Paniagua
Words by Amandine Paniagua
Published November 15 2022
To prepare the mojo salsas, either green or red, simply add all the ingredients into a blender and blend until slightly creamy, scraping down the sides if necessary.
These salsas will keep up to two weeks in an airtight container.
Fresh and feisty, the mojo picón salsa is the perfect sauce to diversify any dish without complication—particularly adequate in the Summertime when outdoor meals become custom. This savoury sauce, taken from the Spanish cuisine repertory, is bright, colourful and flavoursome, yet so simple and quick to make that it will possibly convert into one of your fridge staples.
The mojo picón is a light sauce made in "Las Canarias", the Canary Islands, usually paired with "papas arrugadas", boiled potatoes with cracked crystal salt typical of the local cuisine. There are always mojo salsas to dip bread into at restaurants and bars. Spain is undoubtedly a place where eating goes beyond rigid sustenance. It is a social ritual, and as such, Spanish cuisine has an abundance of shared dishes, the tapas, that are vibrant, grounded and flavoursome. And thankfully, few of those are vegan or easily adaptable. The flavour of mojo picón is more or less spicy, which is perfect with potatoes, or to flavour any dish, for barbecues, sandwiches, salads, and the list goes on. It is easy to take away and a love letter to fresh and whole food.
Here, we share the two versions of the mojo picón salsa, Verde (green) and Rojo (red). With a common base of garlic, sunflower oil, capsicum, cumin spice and vinegar for conservation, the sauces are heavily infused with nutrients. We found Vitamin C, A, omega-3s and -6s and antioxidants that will support brain health, improve the cardiovascular system by reducing cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood, and assist with skin collagen production. On top of these multiple benefits, the Green mojo picón includes detoxifying herbs; the Red version comes with an extra volume of antioxidants, both acting against cardiovascular issues and improving digestion. Simple sauces but potent.
Another bonus of the mojo picón is its adaptability, which could be surprising given its short list of ingredients. You can easily swap the parsley with fresh coriander for the green version. If you like your sauce more or less spicy, no problem; adjust the amount of garlic and spices as you like. While olive oil is a staple of Mediterranean cuisine, and Spanish dishes are not otherwise, for the mojo picón, you want a light taste of vegetable oil. Here we used sunflower oil, but canola does as well. Make according to what is available in your bio-region.
During my trip back to Europe, I discovered the mojo picón salsa while visiting the Canary islands. It is a less than three hours flight from Barcelona, which is not far from where my family lives in France. The archipelago of eight main islands is to be found offshore South Morocco in the Atlantic ocean. A result of volcanic formations and high exposure to the Sirocco wind, the islands are more or less dry, more or less lush, and imprinted by volcanic past and current activities. We landed on Lanzarote and also visited the neighbouring island of Fuerteventura. Both islands are marked by Earth's rage, which brought scarcity to the landscape. Temperature is hot, volcanic soil drains nutrients, and fresh water is a rare resource. This particular climate brought to the Canaries a range of low-tech and modern technologies early on—seawater desalination, divots cultivation, wind turbines, terrace crops, solar panels and so on. Something to be inspired by as the climate in many countries gets unstable and drier because of global warming.
Lastly, Lanzarote is the birth home of famous modern artist Cesar Manrique, who designed and built a few incredible houses and social places across the islands with an architect friend. They are completely integrated into the landscape and glorify natural geography. It is worth sharing about this man because of his philosophy and love of the land. "Nature has given us the splendour of life, and as a splendid mother, we have a duty to protect her from all danger, as it is on her that we depend" (1992). Manrique was also an activist who fought against the impact of mass travelling. He reported and criticised the over-construction of holiday residential, led by the greed of developers, which deformed and privatised the natural landscape of Lanzarote, and largely Spain, from the 60s until the great financial crisis of 2008. More than ever, it is time to question the scale of industrialisation.