Thursday, February 22, 2024

hola! A taste of Mexican Vegetarian Cuisine

Mexican gastronomy is defined by a sense of community, a rich diversity of native ingredients and age-old practices of planting and harvesting.

With The Mexican Vegetarian Cookbook, a definitive collection of traditional, authentic Mexican vegetarian recipes for home cooks, published by Phaidon, chef and restauranteur Margarita Carrillo Arronte endeavours to preserve Mexico’s collective cultural and culinary heritage brimming with stories, traditions, and myth, for readers.


MOLLETES WITH PICO DE GALLO SALSA AND GRATIN CHEESE

Region: All Mexico

Cooking Time: 10 minutes | Preparation Time: 20 minutes | Serves: 4

  • 4 small baguettes (15 cm long)
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 2 cups Refried Beans, seasoned
  • 2 cups grated Chihuahua, Monterey Jack, or Cheddar cheese
  • 1-2 cups Mexican salsa or pico de gallo (see below)
  • For the pico de gallo salsa
  • 2 large, ripe tomatoes large, seeded and chopped
  • ½ red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 serrano chiles, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped coriander
  • sea salt

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Cut the baguettes in half lengthwise and remove the excess crumb. Spread the butter over the cut sides and toast them a little, crumb-side down, in a frying pan or skillet. Spread a generous layer of refried beans then grated cheese over each half. Place on an oven tray and bake the molletes until the cheese melts.

Meanwhile, mix all the salsa ingredients in a bowl, with salt to taste. Serve the hot molletes with the salsa.

Chef’s tip: This is a very traditional breakfast or lunch eaten by students.


BEANS AND QUELITES TAMALES

Region: Central Mexico

Cooking Time: 1 hour | Preparation Time: 45 minutes, plus 20 minutes resting | Serves: 12

  • 60g onion, sliced
  • 2 tbsp corn oil
  • 500g quelites (wild greens), or spinach, watercress or any edible green leaf, rinsed and roughly chopped
  • 2 cups cooked black beans, with some of their cooking liquid
  • 3 large sprigs epazote, leaves finely chopped
  • 1 cup water, vegetable stock or bean broth
  • 1⅓ cups vegetable shortening
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp fine salt
  • 8¾ cups masa harina
  • 2 bunches of dried corn husks, soaked in hot water until soft, then drained
  • sea salt

Sauté the onion in a pan with some of the oil, add the chopped quelites (wild greens) and cook until any juices are released. Season with salt to taste and tip into a strainer (sieve). Using the back of a spoon, press the leaves against the strainer or squeeze them between your hands, to remove all excess liquid. Set aside.

In another pan, cook the black beans in the remaining oil, until they lose most of their liquid. Smash with a potato masher. Add the chopped epazote leaves and salt to taste. Set aside.

Beat the stock, shortening, baking powder and fine salt into the masa harina. If it’s too stiff, add more liquid, a little at a time.

Take a corn husk and spread a generous spoonful of corn dough onto it. Next, add a tablespoon of beans at the center of the corn husk and another of quelites. Close the tamal by folding the sides of the husk inwards and then the bottom tip back over to enclose that end.

Place the basket in a steamer and pour water into it—the water must not exceed the level of the basket.

Line the basket with corn husks and place the tamales standing upright, with open ends up, just tightly enough to keep them standing. Lay a few soaked corn husks or a damp tea towel over the top of the tamales before adding the lid, to prevent steam from escaping.

Cook over high heat for 1 hour or until the dough comes off the corn husk easily when the tamale is unwrapped. Let the tamales rest, covered, for 20 minutes before serving.


PANELA CHEESE MEDALLIONS WITH FAVA BEANS –

Region: Central Mexico

Cooking Time: 40 minutes | Preparation Time: 20 minutes |
Serves: 4

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tbsp minced onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose (plain) flour
  • 2 large, ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 500g fresh mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
  • 1 tsp vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
  • ⅓ tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 4 cups podded baby fava (broad) beans, peeled and cooked
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 800g panela cheese, sliced into 4 thick medallions butter, for greasing
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • finely chopped parsley, to garnish

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Heat the oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat and fry the onion and garlic until golden.

Add the flour and stir to combine. Add the tomatoes, mushrooms, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, and fava (broad) beans, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the stock and cook for 5 minutes, until everything is cooked. Set aside. Place the panela medallions in a generously buttered ovenproof dish and cover them with the fava bean mixture.

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes.

Serve hot, garnished with chopped parsley.

Chef’s tip: You can broil (grill) the cheese medallions for a few seconds rather than bake and serve with the sauce.


TOMATO AND PINEAPPLE JELLY –

Region: All Mexico

Cooking Time: 25 minutes | Preparation Time: 20 minutes | Makes: 2 jars

  • 425g peeled, seeded, and chopped tomatoes
  • 440g fresh pineapple,
  • finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp pectin
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
  • 4 cloves
  • 4 cups sugar

Put the tomatoes and pineapple into a saucepan and simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes until they soften. Add the pectin and cook for 5 minutes, then add the cinnamon, cloves, and sugar, and bring to a boil. Stir to combine, then boil for 10 minutes until the mixture thickens and has the consistency of jelly (jam). Remove from the heat.

While still hot, pour the jelly into two warmed, sterilized jars (each 2¼ cups), close the lids tightly and leave to cool. Store in the refrigerator.

Serving suggestions: Serve with bread, on pancakes or crepes, or over ice cream.

Related: Culinary secrets & shortcuts

 

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