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Vegetable Taco Fillings A Mexican love letter to Vegetables

Vegetable Taco Fillings_Ideas_ recipes _Yes, more please!

Feelings…. nothing more than Fillings”… Hello friends, we’re back.We have been on a roller coaster; from a vacation in Mexico, to Slow Wine Festival, meeting new people, giving cooking classes, Ian giving lots of photography classes…we have been busy, but you have always been on our minds.

Visiting my Mexico after more than eight years was reinvigorating. Being back in my birth country was very fulfilling and I felt my roots strongly. We were welcomed at the airport with a big familiar smile and , thankfully, we did not have to get in the long customs line. During the visit we could eat and breathe the delicious in-season ingredients that Baja produces; from papayas, to avocados, chiles, lettuce, pineapples, limes, guanabanas, tomatoes, chard, radishes, you name it!. I just felt like a fish back in the water, especially walking along the pristine coastline. Now I’m melancholic… its hard to forget the people, the laughs, the air and the sea… and the food. From freshness, flavor, aroma, ingredients, preparations, sazones… can you imagine? Good thing we just visited one little town…Phew!

I have harnessed the melancholy and channeled it into a love letter to every Vegan and Vegetarian who has felt neglected by the Taco Love. Yes baby, not one, not two, but EIGHT vegetable fillings that will add vitamin “V” (vegetable) on any Taco night!

Some are more seasonal than others but I kept in mind vegetables that can be accessible almost all year around. I came up with these delicious and simple variations with strong MEXICAN flavors, no wimpy vegetable tacos here.

You can whip-up these recipes any day of the week, choose one, or two, or three for variety sake or just try one each day and call it the Taco week. Want to go the extra mile? try  making your homemade tortillas here recipe and tutorial.

For this post we decided no step-by-step photos are necessary. These vegetable taco filling recipes are so easy to prepare using basic chopping, seasoning, and sautéing that you can make them faster than you can say chiffonade. All fillings are Gluten free, Vegetarian and Vegan, except for one filling, but I included some vegan substitutions.

I hope you enjoy this vegetable rant of inspiration while my inner Mexican is fully inspired. Enjoy!

P.S Recipes dedicated with love to the Panda’s and their Neighbors, thank you for your friendship. Xoxo

{Lately, we have been reading, and watching many documentaries that have resonated with and influenced our way of eating and cooking. For example we watched one about food production and agriculture. We are of the opinion that its a good idea to put more effort toward cooking a vegetable main dish more than once a week. Perhaps it should be the other way around, one day of meat and the rest days of vegetables as I rant on instagram… What you think?}

Vegetable Taco Fillings, a Mexican love letter to Vegetables

1.Roasted Cauliflower in Salsa VerdeCauliflower-in-Salsa-Verde_Vegetable-Taco-Filling_Yes,-more-please!

Holly shubangwuah!, I can eat this roasted Cauliflower in salsa Verde by the spoonfuls. Cauliflower when roasted becomes sweet and nutty and all this crispy salty edges that when in combination with the tangy spicy tomatillo salsa verde the flavors just warm you up. Leave this little florets navegate in the saucy verde salsa, be generous with the salsa.

A must try. You want to have this quick recipe under your sleeve for any given day of the week. Do not limit yourself using this recipe for just the taco filling. This delicious Cauliflower in salsa Verde can be serve on a bed or rice or a side of whole buttery beans and you have a winner for dinner. Garnish with queso fresco, a dollop of yogurt freshly made tortillas…

Serves 4-6 taco using regular size 5” corn tortillas

½ Medium Cauliflower head separated in small florets.

12 medium Tomatillos peeled and washed.

1-2 Serrano chiles roasted until chard.

¼ white onion roasted until chard.

1 garlic clove

6-8 Cilantro sprigs

sea salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon sunflower or corn oil + more to drizzle.

In a small pot

In a small pot place 1 cup of water, tomatillos cut in halves, a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer until tomatillos changed color, look olive-green, and they are smash-able. Set aside.

Pre-heat the oven at 425 F. Place cauliflower florets, chiles, and onion piece on a baking sheet lined with foil. Drizzle some oil and sprinkle salt and pepper. Roast the Cauliflower for 8-12 minutes or until golden brown and some chard edges showing. When chiles and Onion are charred, pull the baking tray out of the oven. In a blender add the cooked tomatillos strained, ¼ cup of water in which the tomatillos where cooked, charred onion, chiles, fresh cilantro, raw garlic, and few healthy pinches of sea salt. Blend until pureed.

In a skillet add 1 tablespoon sunflower oil or corn oil bring to heat, and carefully add the green sauce until bubbly, cook for 5-7 minutes. At this point add the roasted cauliflower florets, toss well, adjust for salt and its ready to serve!

2. Cremini Mushrooms Ajillo – GuajilloCremini Mushrooms Ajillo-Guajillo_Vegetable-Taco-Filling_Yes,-more-please! copy copy

Mexico has a great variety of mushrooms and various preparations can be found. Often they are cooked in simple manners to make them shine. Like inside quesadillas, soups, or quick sautéed with herbs. My take on this mushrooms, a little butter, garlic and a hint of chile guajillo wich it adds a very settle flavor, not spicy at all but a punch of color and flavor to the sautéed creminis. I will highly recommend this mushrooms on top of queso fundido, quesadillas a bowl of buttery beans or with a sunny side up egg for breakfast. Honestly once you try these mushrooms you will be making a double batch next time…

Serves 4-6 taco using regular size 5” corn tortillas

16oz. Cremini Mushrooms sliced

2 dry Guajillo peppers

1 teaspoon ancho chili powder

5 garlic cloves finely chopped

2 tablespoons sunflower oil-corn oil

3 tablespoons of butter (for vegans, use coconut oil)

Sea salt and pepper to taste

Using Kitchen scissors cut the guajillo across and into small thin rings. Discard seeds and steam.

Bring a cast iron skillet to a medium high heat. Warm oil, place the guajillo rings and sauté for 2-3 minutes until they are crispy. Remove promptly from skillet into a paper towel. By now the oil color in the skillet looks bright orange. Add the sliced mushrooms, sea salt and black pepper. Saute for 5-6 minutes until mushrooms start sweating and some of them have little golden crisp edges, add one more drizzle of oil if needed. Once the mushrooms start looking cooked, add garlic, butter and 12 pinches of salt. Saute for 3-4 minutes. Add the crispy Trujillo rings back into the skillet. Saute briefly until well incorporated. Remove from skillet and its ready to serve.

If you are on a spicier mode use a Pasilla, Ancho or Cascabel chile to bring out the heat. Or a dollop of this Mucha Muchacha Salsa.

3. Sweet Potato and Pineapple Pastor Sweet Potato and Pineapple Pastor_Vegetable-Taco-Filling_Yes,-more-please! copy copy

Ok hands down my favorite Vegan-Pastor. These Sweet potatoes Pastor are the bomb.

Spicy Pastor adobo and the sweetness in the potatoes are a match made in heaven. The orangey color even helps to make them more visually appealing. The Pineapple is a must on this recipe, plan accordingly. Vegetarians, vegans and Meat lovers are gonna love this one.

Serves 4-6 taco using regular size 5” corn tortillas

2 Medium sweet potatoes, washed, peeled and cut into one inch batonnets

¼ cup white onion diced

2 chile chipotles en adobo

1 teaspoon anatto powder or achiote paste

½ tablespoon ancho chili powder

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon Mexican dry oregano

¼ teaspoon cumin powder

1 bay leaf

½ teaspoon brown sugar

½ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

½ cup Fresh Pineapple

2 tablespoons Corn or Sunflower Oil.

On a blender, immersion blender, molcajete or mortar, combine until pureed the chipotles, achiote, ancho chili powder, garlic powder, oregano, cumin powder, bay leaf, brown sugar, salt and vinegar. On a bowl combine the sweet potatoes and this chili pastor paste. Let marinate for at least 30 min. Best overnight.

Heat a cast iron skillet on medium high heat, add the oil until ripples, add the onion and sauté until translucent. Add the marinated Sweet potatoes. Cook until the sweet potatoes are tender and they have a crusty golden char exterior. To achieve this crusty potatoes is best not to shake them to often, to allow them to get a crust. Make sure there is enough oil so they don’t scorch before they are tender and cooked, you can add another drizzle. Sweet potatoes should be a little aldente. Remove from skillet transfer to a bowl. Then add Pineapple slivers or little squares into the skillet and sauté for a few minutes. Add sweet potatoes back to the skillet and toss. Transfer to a platter and you are ready to make the tacos. I will recommend this tomatillo avocado salsa verde, it is part of other recipe look for it its amazing!..and of course a squeeze of lime… mmm..

4. Poblano and Sweet Corn RajasPoblano and Sweet Corn Rajas_Vegetable-Taco-Filling_Yes,-more-please!

This Poblano Corn and crema filling is very traditional and often used as filling for sopes, huaraches and tacos. Traditionally this recipe is made with white corn, to be honest if you can get fresh white corn for this recipe it will be fantastic. Living in the States, well you make some concessions and adjust to the best ingredients you can find. I used sweet yellow corn for this recipe and I think the sweetness of the yellow corn balances really well with the smokey and sometimes unexpectedly spicy roasted poblanos. Add an extra pinch of salt and you have one of the most scrumptious taco fillings. Check for Vegan substitutions at the end of the recipe.

Serves 4-6 taco using regular size 5” corn tortillas

2 ear of corn kernels

2 chiles poblanos, roasted or charred, skinned, deveined removed seeds and cut into long stripes. See this method

½ medium white onion

1 garlic clove minced

¼ -1/3 cup crema oaxaquena, mexican crema or heavy cream as last resource*

1 splash of milk.

1 Tablespoon Corn or Sunflower oil

1 tablespoon butter

Salt and Pepper to taste.

On a skillet over a medium heat, warm up oil and sauté the onions, until translucent. Add the corn Kernels, season with salt and pepper and sauté for 3-5 minutes. Add the strips of poblano, and toss well. Add the crema, and a little splash of milk. Adjust salt and pepper, toss well. And bring to slow simmer. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a platter and they are ready to serve!

Vegan Substitutions: unsweetened coconut cream, or ½ coconut ½ tahini paste.

 

5. Kale a la Mexicana

Kale a la Mexicana_Vegetable-Taco-Filling_Yes,-more-please!

The easiest way to Mexicanize your vegetables is the tri-color ingredient, basic mexican recaudo, white onion, chile serrano and tomatoes. This recaudo is usually the base for scrambled eggs, “a la Mexicana, or other quick chicken or fajitas preparation. It is easy and a classic. Kale, Chard, Spinach, Mustard Greens, Purslane, Lambs Quarters, every green  “a la Mexicana” can be delicious.  Use different kinds of tomatoes, or kinds of fresh chiles can be a great variation.  I think is quick recipe is one of my favorite ways to prepare and incorporate kale into the Mexican Table… Breakfast?…Put an egg on it, or make a taco with a scrambled eggs concoction. What you think?

Serves 4-6 taco using regular size 5” corn tortillas

½ medium yellow onion

1 Serrano small diced or thinly slices

3 cups Lacinato kale chopped into thin ribbons

½ cup cherry tomatoes

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Salt and Pepper to taste.

Heat a cast iron skillet, over a medium high heat. Add oil and diced onions, quick sauté until translucent edges. Add Serrano, salt and pepper. Quick toss. Add Kale and vinegar, toss quickly and sauté until kale begins to welt. Add cherry tomatoes toss quickly until they warm up. Taste for salt and pepper, adjust seasoning if necessary. Transfer to a bowl or platter serve immediately.

6. Chipotle Soy Picadillo Chipotle Soy Picadillo_Vegetable-Taco-Filling_Yes,-more-please! copy copy

Picadillo is a typical homemade dish. One pot wonder, the original dish uses a combination of ground meat, lots of vegetables, sometimes you can find sweet picadillos for chiles en nogada, or like this version wich is the homestyle spicy chipotle version. I decided to use texturized soy wich is often used in vegetarian Mexican cooking. The brands I prefer, Bob Red’s Mill or Now Foods are my favorites they are organic and texture and taste is great. Yo also can find this TVP at Natural groceries  on the bulk section. This Picadillo its one pot wonder a great way to incorporate vegetables into this taco situation…I hope you like it!

Serves 4-6 taco using regular size 5” corn tortillas

1 cup texturized soy, follow the package instrucctions to rehidrate.

½ meddium size onion finelly chopped

1 garlic clove minced

4-5 Worcestershire sauce (if vegan, add 1 tablespoon of tomato paste or a couple of sundry tomatoes, and a few more dashes of black pepper)

1 small potato small diced

1 carrot small diced

1 small mexican calabazita (light green zucchini) small diced

¼ cup peas

½ cup small diced tomatoes

2 chiles chipotles en adobo plus about 1 teaspoon of the adobo juices and purée it.

(I like “La Morena” or “San Marcos”Brand)

½ teaspoon dry Mexican oregano

1 tablespoon Corn, Sunflower oil, or extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to your taste.

On a cast iron skillet, over medium hight heat, add the oil and onions until translucent. Add the diced potatoes, salt pepper, cover with a lid until potatoes are al-dente. Add garlic saute for 1 minute. Add the texturized soy and 4-5 dashes of Worcestershire sauce. Saute for 5 minutes. (Make sure the texturized soy is well hydrated, and remove all water excess before cooking) At his point add the diced tomatoes, the chipotle purée, and dry oregano. Saute for 1-2 minutes. Add ¼ cup of water, carrots, zucchini, salt and pepper. Toss well. Lower the temperature, and cover with a lid for 5 minutes, until carrots are cooked but not mushy. At last, add the peas and toss, taste , adjust for salt and pepper if necessary. Turn off and cover with a lid until peas are cooked but still bright green. Serve immediately. This filling can be made in advance and it tastes even better the next day, Enjoy!

7. Nopalitos and Onions in Guajillo – Pasilla SauceNopalitos and Onions in Guajillo-Pasilla Sauce_Vegetable-Taco-Filling_Yes,-more-please! copy copy

Nopalitos Cactus plant is known to have a slimy reputation, but when you cook them right, and utilizing the right ingredients, Nopalitos are delicious. They are tangy and soft, the texture and flavor reminds me like if an ocra and a mushroom had a child. The guajillo – pasilla sauce add great flavor and contrast to the tangy nopalito flavor. Nopalitos beside being a nacional simbol on the Mexican flag, are the miracle vegetable. So many nutritious value and health elixirs attributes, you just want to start researching now!… Seriously, give these nopalitos a chance and you will love them.

Serves 4-6 taco using regular size 5” corn tortillas

6 Tender Nopalitos pieces, cut into small squares.

¼ medium size onion

6 sprigs of cilantro

4-5 tomatillo husks

1 chile serrano

1 teaspoon salt

½ onion diced

2 good drizzles of extra virgin olive oil, or sunflower oil.

For the sauce:

2 dry chiles pasilla

2 dry chiles guajillo

1 garlic clove

1/8 teaspoon cumin powder

½ teaspoon salt

Clean chiles and remove steams. On a small pot, place 2 cups water bring to a boil, add the chiles, simmer for 10 minutes until well hydrated, soft and plumpy. In a blender, purée the chiles, garlic, cumin, salt with about ¼-to a ½ cup of the water in wich the chiles hydrated.

Set aside. On another pot start cooking the Nopalitos. Add at least 4 cups of water, the nopalitos squares, onion, cilantro, tomatillo husks, chile serrano, salt. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to low simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Check for doneness. Nopalitos should look olive-green, and fork tender. Remove cooked onion, cilantro and serrano. Strain the nopalitos and let the heat evaporate the rest of the water in them. About 4-5 minutes. By any chance, rinse them in water. These will make them slimy.

On a skillet, warm up the oil and add the diced onion, along with the dry nopalitos. And saute for 3-4 minutes, until onions are soft. Add the Guajillo-Pasilla Sauce, toss well, add about ¼ cup of water if needed. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook on medium low for 4-5 minutes with lid on to avoid splatters. Turn off the nopalitos and they are ready to serve! You can sprinkle some queso fresco or cotija for a delicious accompaniment on the taco, and off course a few drops of lime juice, because what would be a taco with no lime right?…

8. Chard, Potatoes, and Shredded Carrot HashChard, Potatoes, and Shredded Carrot hash_Vegetable-Taco-Filling_Yes,-more-please! copy

This is the easiest of all the fillings. It is almost a hash. You can use spinach, purslane, kale or any type of green in season instead of the chard. Instead of potatoes you can use sweet potatoes, or zucchini. Carrots or/and yellow beets will work divine. This filling with an egg on it and a dollop of my favorite Mucha Muchacha Salsa, a match made in heaven. 

Serves 4-6 taco using regular size 5” corn tortillas

2-3 drizzles sunflower oil or extra virgin olive oil

1 medium wax yellow potato

1 small yellow onion diced

1 garlic clove

1-2 dry chiltepines…optional you can use pepper flakes for a less heated version.

2 carrots shredded or using one of my favorite tools  a  Julianne peeler. click here

4-5 cups Chard, cut into chiffonade

2 dashes of apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon golden raisins

Salt pepper to taste

Pepitas (pumpkin seeds) for garnish

On a cast iron skillet warm up the oil, saute potatoes and season with salt and pepper until potatoes are crispy. At this point add the onions , garlic and dry chiltepines crushed. (crush the chiltepines on a napkin. Avoid using your fingers directly to prevent chili burns.) Add the Juliane carrots, toss well saute for 1 minute. Add the Chard, raisins, apple cider vinegar salt and pepper. Toss well and briefly about 2 minutes. Just when the chard starts to welt, remove from heat and taste for salt ad pepper adjust if needed. Serve immediately, garnish tacos with pepitas, queso fresco or a dollop of greek yogurt.   Enjoy!

Make a Taco Tuesday…Wednesday, Thursday… Weekends…

Have fun and Let’s eat MORE VEGETABLES!!!

Music Pairing: A su Merced el Mercado- Liliana Felipe

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Mariana’s Pipian Verde

Mariana's-Pipian-Verde_Pumpkin-seeds_Yes,-more-please!

One of the most iconic and traditional Mexican dishes, Mole Poblano, gets all the fame and glory, but what about the rest of the Moles? There are at least another 7 moles from Oaxaca, imagine that is just one state… equally delicious, easier, different chiles and seeds combinations, seasonal, upon what is available in different regions and Grandmas’, Moms’, and Aunts’ taste. Each family has their own traditions, style and way to prepare them. Which one is more authentic?.. The one that is more you-er than you. I do not like to refer to a dish as authentic, I believe its more about tradition. Unless we go authenticating Grandmas, Moms and Aunts out there…unless it’s a Picasso painting.

Tradition is what a dish should reflect. The way and manner it was prepared in your family, at a place in time and history that has carry on within. That’s what resonates more with a recipe, like that yellowish piece of paper that has butter spots and crunchy edges, you can barely read from your grandmas handwriting, and that you have slightly adapted because of personal preferences but its done and evokes you memories and flavors that ground you, and hold a spot in your family history.

Mariana's-Pipian-Verde_ingredients

In this case Pipian Verde it is not part of my family history, nor was traditionally made at home, but it is part of my culture and my Mexican flavors. I’ve always admired this dishes for the complexity yet so warm and comforting flavors. This Pipian Verde tells my story as a cook, the way I’ve adapted and embraced flavors in a foreign country, and the eagerness to rescue my Mexican cooking flavors.

My Pipian Verde recipe its my own translation of this traditional Mole. Not only on flavor, but also with a simpler method and an updated way to prepare it at home.
With all intention of show casing the pepitas flavor, the herbaceous distinctive smell and color, I used what is best available in austin, Texas, the city I currently call home. I thought about herbs and ingredients, that will mimic the flavors in a new refreshing way. Light, velvety and bright flavor with a hint of heat that will warm the back of your throat. This is my recipe for Pipian Verde, adapted for what I could best find in my city. If you decide to make this recipe, be fearless, do it with the best ingredients you have, use your instincts, adapt. I will assure you it will be the best Pipian you’ve ever had. Youer than you.  After that, you will fall in love with this green mole.

This mole is the beginning of my own traditions.
I hope you enjoy it and embrace the anewness

Mariana's-Pipian-Verde_toasting-and-grounding-the-pepitas

Mariana's-Pipian-Verde_chopped-ingredients

Mariana’s Pipian Verde

Serves 6-8

The unique flavor of toasted pepitas, chiles, corn masa and herbs give this beautiful bright green Mole a lighter quality and a velvety sauce. It is absolutely outstanding combination with any white fleshy fish, shrimp, chicken, turkey or roasted vegetables and root vegetables, like zucchinis, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, mirliton, carrots, rutabagas, parsnips… among others. Because of the amount of fresh herbs this Mole taste better the day its made, and it will hold for the next two days in the refrigerator.

¾ cup raw pepitas, toasted and finely ground*

8-10 (upon size) green tomatillos
2 medium poblano peppers chopped and de seeded.
3-4 Serrano peppers
¼ medium sized onion
2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup up to 1 cup slightly packed, fresh epazote leaves**
¼ cup parsley leaves
½ romaine heart lettuce
2 cups baby power greens, like spinach, kale, arugula, mustard, chard.****
½ teaspoon anise seeds toasted
¼ teaspoon cumin seeds toasted
6 peppercorns
1 teaspoon kosher salt
A few drizzles of extra virgin olive oil

3-4 cups chicken stock***

4 tablespoons white corn masa harina, diluted in 6 tablespoons water or chicken stock.

Notes:
*I used my spice “coffee” grinder to pulverize the toasted pepitas. Pulsing on a food processor might work too.
** Smell and taste the epazote, if this is the first time you use it, taste it it has a minty-liquorice flavor. If it is to strong for you, start by adding ½ the amount, adjust to your tastebuds.
*** I made my chicken stock using a small whole chicken. I usually add to my stock, 1 carrot, ½ onion, 1 long celery stalk, 1 teaspoon thyme, 1 teaspoon oregano, 1 large bay leaf , salt and pepper to taste. It is easy to prepare, you make the most of your ingredients, using the stock and the chicken.
****Why baby greens? because they are tender and the flavor will not mask the nutty delicate pepita flavor.

For Vegan version: Use a roasted vegetable stock, preferable to add extra flavor.

Mariana's-Pipian-Verde_baby-greens

Preparation Method:

1.In a blender add the chopped tomatillos, poblanos, serranos, onion, garlic, epazote leaves, parsley leaves, romaine lettuce, power baby greens, toasted anise seeds, toasted cumin, peppercorns, salt, 1 to 1 1/2 cups of chicken stock and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and blend well for about 3-4 minutes until pureed.

Mariana's-Pipian-Verde_blend-it-up!
2. On a 7 QT. clay or enamel Pot, drizzle some extra virgin olive oil. Once it starts to ripple , carefully add the green blended concoction. It might splatter so use an apron. Stir, and let low simmer for 10 minutes. Remove any white foam that comes to the surface. Stir now and then.
3. With the help of a whisk incorporate into the green sauce the pulverized toasted pepitas little by little to avoid clumps. If the sauce is getting to thick add one more cup of warm chicken stock little at a time. Chicken stock has to be warm so the mole do not break and separate.
4. Gently whisk, and add the diluted masa harina little at the time. And add another cup of the chicken stock. Whisk gently. And let the mole on a gently slow simmer for another 10 minutes stirring now and then making sure you scrape the bottom to avoid hot spots. As it cooks the mole will thicken, If the consistency its to thick add more chicken stock, little at the time, you want a creamy consistency, that will cover the back of a spoon.
5. At his point I used my immersion blender and blend for 1 minute until smooth and velvety. If you don’t have an immersion blender you can use the food processor or a blender. Please, be really careful and cautious when handling hot sauces into the blender.
6. Taste for salt , adjust if necessary let it simmer at the lowest.

Mariana's-Pipian-Verde_Step-by-step-how-to-make-this-delicious-Mole_Yes,-more-please!

7. Serve warm over a piece of chicken, pork, white fish grilled or sauteed, or any Vegetables. Be generous with the sauce, cover the entire surface, and maybe a little more. Garnish with toasted pepitas, a side of brown rice, or your favorite garlicky rice pilaf. Enjoy!

Mariana's-Pipian-Verde_ready-to-serveMariana's-Pipian-Verde_with-chicken-Con-pollo-Mole_Yes,-more-please!Mariana's-Pipian-Verde_Served-with-Vegetables-Vegetariano

Interested on cooking this delicious Pipian Verde and learning other 2 moles with me?

Come and join me at Kitchen Underground headquarters for a Moles and Mezcal Cooking class

Pipian Verde * Mole Amarillo * Mole de Novia

For registration and more information about this class: Kitchen Underground

“Para todo Mal un Mezcal, y para todo Bien… también!”

Looking forward to see you there!…

Any Class suggestions, Yes, more please! shoot us a comment…

Music Pairing: Luis Cobos Huapango Popurri

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Sweet and Handsome Farro Salad

Sweet and Handsome Farro Salad_ingredients_Yes, more please!

Sweet peppers are what you can find at the markets in Austin, Texas right now. Beautiful varieties, colorful, different shapes and sizes. Perhaps one or two sassy ones among the bunch, but mostly they are fleshy, sweet and flavorful.

For me, grilling these kind of sweet peppers bring the best flavors in them. The sweet mild flesh with the charred pieces of skin are what inspired me to make this salad. We love to grill at this time of the year when it does not feel like you are grilling your self over, September its a better Grilling Time for us.

Sweet and Handsome Farro Salad_Grilling-Sweet-peppers

So what to do with all these chard sweet peppers? I combined them with the most handsome Italian grain of them all: Farro, my favorite grain, because of his nutty flavor,  great bite and texture. This gigolo of a grain has to become part of your pantry. I cook farro the same way I cook pasta, in lots of water and a couple of pinches of salt,  for about 20-25 minutes. Once its cooked, I strain the water, air dry it, and while still warm I add a sensible vinaigrette, of green grassy extra virgin olive oil along with a generous splash of red wine vinegar for a bright flavor. Coriander seeds, garlic, salt and pepper where my flavors of choice for this grilled salad.

Last but not least, I added grilled Sweet Peppers, grilled red onions, some fresh celery for crunch and sprinkled some bulgarian feta to add some salty and creamy texture. It is a great hearthy salad.

Sweet and Handsome Farro Salad_Charred-red-onions

This Sweet and Handsome Farro Salad will flirt with lunch or dinner, the perfect match for roasted or grilled, chicken, pork or lamb. If you are feeling not so carnivorous, put an egg on it. This Farro salad best companion was a glass of red wine, we had a good Tempranillo and some Lamb Loin chops on the side. It was a great end of the Summer welcome Fall dinner.

Enjoy!

Sweet and Handsome Farro Salad_Yes,-more-please

Sweet and Handsome Farro Salad

Serves 4-6 Italian portions

1-1/2 cup dry Farro
18-20 Sweet peppers any kind, any color, mix and match.
1 large red onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh celery, include the leaves

For the vinaigrette:

1/2 to 1  teaspoon coriander seeds, toasted and coarsley chrushed
1 small garlic clove finely chopped or smashed through a garlic press.
1 teaspoon honey
1 lemon, grilled and juiced.
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste.

In a mason jar place all the vinaigrette ingredients, close jar with the lid on tight and shake-shake shake…then ready to use.

Bulgarian Feta crumbs to top.
Chopped Mint or Texas Marigold (optional)

Preparation Method:

1. On a large pot filled with water, and 2 good pinches of salt, add Farro, bring to a boil and cook for 20-25 minutes. Taste for doneness. Drain water and air dry on a colander.

Sweet and Handsome Farro Salad_Cooked-Farro

2. Grill red onion and sweet peppers. Once the peppers have cool enough to handle them, peel them, remove seeds and cut into stripes.

Sweet and Handsome Farro Salad_Grilled-Sweet-peppers-and-OnionsSweet and Handsome Farro Salad_Chop,-chop,-chop

3. On a large plater or a bowl, combine the cooked farro along with all the vinaigrette, the sweet pepper stripes, grilled onions, celery, mint, salt and pepper. Use your hands, toss well. When ready to serve sprinkle the feta crumbs.

Sweet and Handsome Farro Salad_Grilled-lemon_Yes,-more-pleaseSweet and Handsome Farro Salad_Toss-the-Salad

Sweet-and-Handsome-Farro-Salad_THis-italian-grain-will-win-you-over

Sweet and Handsome Farro Salad_a great simple salad_Yes,-more-please

There is nothing like great ingredients, treated with respect, paired and cooked right and you will have a heck of good dinner!
Enjoy.

Music Pairing: I’m Just a Gigolo- Louis Prima

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Hibiscus Mint Fruit Punch

Hibiscus-Fruit-Punch_SVETIA_Yes,-more-please!

While growing up, Hibiscus-Jamaica agua fresca was often the drink of choice to refresh on a Summery day.  I remember my mom and grandma buying the dry flowers in bulk. Hibiscus-flor de Jamaica or Roselle should not be confused by the ornamental hibiscus plants, these ruby red flowers come from a different plant scientific name Hibiscus sabdariffa which are dried and used in many preparations, from sweet to savory dishes. The flavor profile of this Hibiscus is highly acidic, almost citrus like. It contains high doses of vitamin C and a unique flowery citrus flavor that is just right for refreshing drinks and tames the thirst on hot summer days. For me, growing up in Mexico, Agua fresca de Jamaica was my “cool”aid.

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With this in mind and thinking of something refreshing and fun to drink, I thought of making a fruit punch, or the good Sister of Sangria. This Hibiscus Mint Fruit Punch  just got loaded with lots of fresh fruit, and SVETIA sweetener which makes this Fruit punch the good sister of Sangria, or the healthiest Agua Fresca!

I found SVETIA by chance at the grocery store, I gave it a try and I think is a good option to naturally sweeten up drinks and beverages. It is Stevia based and it has a minimal amount of real sugar just to cut the edge of the natural bitterness of Stevia.
I think its a good naturally derived alternative. Check their website for more information click here SVETIA

We are almost on the last weekend of Summer, what a great way to refresh with a refreshing not-too- sweet Fruit Punch. Combined with fresh fruit its almost an afternoon snack itself.  Chunks of crisp apples, juicy slices of orange, Frozen grapes and plum cuts, or plums that you nibble as you drink are refreshing and fun to eat. I freeze some of the fruit, so your drink stays cool longer with out watering down the flavor. Other great additions of fruit could be strawberries or blackberries. I just stick to the ones I use in Sangria.

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To make this Punch will need…

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Summer Rolls with Mango Ginger dipping sauce

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The noodles in my head are fried. August in Texas is no joke. Our Thermostat is on a bi-polar rampage. We are trying to deny the existence of such a thing called “electric bill”. We better stay still and attempt to use the stove much less on these days. Its sad but true, I’m not even craving BBQ or to go out for lunch or dinner when the temperature outside reads 90 F degrees even at 9:00pm. I’m Summernating!

So whats for lunch and dinner these days? The freshest crunchy vegetables, cucumbers, carrots, jicama, crispy lettuce, and thin rice noodles cooked in less than 4 minutes. Summer rolls or Gỏi cuốn which translate in “rice paper rolls, are found all over in East Asia and Southeast Asia cuisine. A fine sticky rice paper is the wrapper which holds vermicelli rice noodles and vegetables. Usually these Summer Rolls are served as a popular appetizer. Odds are you have had them if you eat in Vietnamese or Thai restaurants here in the U.S. But why not make them for dinner as the meal itself?

So what are you going to need? You can find the round rice paper at almost any supermarket with an ethnic foods aisle. Or of course you can shop for them in Asian markets or Wholefoods. They are very inexpensive. If you can’t find them, well you can easily order them online if you are Summernating like me.

These rolls are filled with julianne fresh vegetables, vermicelli noodles and a lean protein, usually shrimp or pork. I used in-season ingredients like fresh cucumbers which I spiralize to create noodles. If you don’t have that handy apparatus you can use a Juliane peeler or your handy-dandy knife skills to make fine vegetable strips of your carrots and lettuce. In this version I added avocado and shrimp.
In addition of the traditional peanut sauce, I prepared a dipping Mango-ginger sauce to make them fresher and add a bit more sweetness. These Summer Rolls are what I’m craving these days.

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Preparation of these rolls is a sticky affair but I have a nice trick which helps. If this is the first time making Summer Rolls my best advice: “Do Not” follow the instructions on the package, Heheehe. Everything will be easy after that.

Most of the packages and cookbook instructions out there which (for this roll up process I call them “des-tructions”) call to dip the rice paper in water, to soften and rehydrate. Then to carefully transfer this world’s stickiest, see thru, delicate, rice paper film into a wood surface or a plate… Let me tell you, this is a sticky fingers, crinkled edges, tear apart of a nightmare.

To avoid this situation, I will share with you my secret weapon to make these Summer Rolls, roll easily. I use a spray bottle.

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The way I do it is as follows: I place the dry rice paper on a flat round plate. I spray the plate and I spray a couple of times onto the rice paper. Using the tips of my fingers, I distribute the water evenly. Leaving the rice paper onto the same plate is gonna be prepared. This makes for no-transferring nightmares. By the time I place the fresh vegetables, rice noodles, mint leaves, add the shrimp in the center, the rice paper is pliable. Then I spray a little water into one edge of the rice paper and start to peel the rice paper in order to start rolling. It is as easy as peeling a non-stick sticker. The roll-up is smooth and easy. 1-2-3-4 fold, the similar way to wrap a burrito, check out the easy step-by-step roll up photos ahead.
For dipping sauce I made the traditional spicy  and peanut for Ian and I made a Mango-ginger sauce that is my favorite now. ( Between you and this screen, Ian and I chomposaurused about 4 rolls each!…yes, shamelessly, happy and refreshing dinner…shshsh!)

I hope you like this recipe its fun to make, pull out your spray bottles and start rolling up these babies. enjoy!

To make these Summer Rolls you will need….

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Zucchini Goat Cheese Entomatadas

 

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Entomatadas;//Adjective, En=in / tomat= from the word tomato /adas adjective termination that denotes action,”adas”
I would say that the closest translation of the word “entomatadas” or “entomatado” would be “smothered in tomato”.

These Entomatadas are the mellow cousins of the Enchiladas. They have the same concept and construction, rolled tortillas filled with infinite possibilities and covered with a sauce made with dry chiles.  The sauce used in entomatadas is made with red tomatoes, as its name suggests. Roma, or Tomboys tomatoes, or jitomate “bola” in Spanish is usually the tomatoes of choice when making this sauce, but certainly any red round meaty and juicy tomatoes, along with mild herbs and spices will work.

The basic Entomatada sauce is very mellow and showcases the best in tomatoes. In this version of mine, I rock it out a little bit by adding a single serrano, that mimics the black pepper and adds deep of flavor to the sauce. The sauce consist of boiled tomatoes, that are skinned, blended, and then sautéed with onion, garlic and fresh epazote or mint. Then its pureed for a second time to produce the most velvety and creamy tomatoey sauce. The creamy sauce contains no dairy however, which makes the sauce light and fresh. Also on the virtue of looking for a healthier, lighter version of the classic way to make entomatadas which calls for frying the tortillas, I warmed up the corn tortillas and I drizzled them with a bit of a delicious green… a grassy extra virgin olive oil! This step not only adds another layer of flavor, but also prevents soggy tortillas when the salsa is added.

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These Entomatadas of mine are filled with sautéed zucchinis, onions, sweet corn, and goat cheese. Once I roll them up, they are smothered with the piping hot tomato sauce which warms them through. These Entomatadas are best eaten warm almost tepid temperature.
Pouring the sauce separately when making any kind of enchilada is my favorite way to make them; It avoids enchilada uni-blocks. Best of all, by using this technique on these Entomatadas, is that it makes them BAKE-FREE!!! keeping you and your house odor free when you have closed the windows to run the A/C. If you don’t understand how that works, then come further South.

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Entomatadas are great for entertaining. I usually have them rolled up and when its time to serve them. I pour the piping hot tomato sauce all over, drizzle of Mexican crema or in this case I use a diluted Greek yogurt and sprinkle of queso fresco to keep them on the lighter side. Take them to the table and serve on a bed of shredded fresh lettuce and avocado wedges. I’m telling you, these Zucchini Goat Cheese Entomatadas scream Summer out loud! Whether its a midweek dinner or a potluck this recipe, its a must try! I know you will like them as much as we do!…

To make this Entomatadas you will need….

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