Tag Archives: mexican

Vegetarian Chili with Smoky Adobos and Acorn Squash

Fall is a great time of year for tons of reasons…my favorite one being that my culinary habits get shaken up and I get to break out of the summertime ways of eating.

No more avoiding the oven for fear of the half day it takes to cool down in the heat of summer!  Big families of produce come back into play: apples, squash, pumpkins, and of course the whole potato clan are welcomed back into my kitchen.  Hearty and filling meals come back to the table, warming us up from the chilly, windy weather outside.

The biggest bag of apples ever seen.

Creativity is needed to get through all those bags of apples (I’m still trying to make it through this gigantic one that was gifted to me from a friend’s backyard apple tree!).

I love all of it.  Not to mention that I get to layer my clothes again.

And so, with all this fall love going around, it is only natural to want to make a big batch of chili to fill our tummies while we are out there enjoying it all.  This year I have cut out eating a lot of meat, so I knew that this chili would be vegetarian.  But nothing is more disappointing than a chili that loses its depth and heartiness when you take out the meat…it starts to feel more like a soup or veggie stew (which is also good, but not when you want thick chili!).  So in order to combat this problem, I decided I needed to add a veggie that could stand up to hot temps and not get mushy or disintegrate, one that would add some depth and take us out of the standard pepper/tomato combo, and of course one that would be amazing with strong Mexican flavors.  And that vegetable is the squash. Continue reading Vegetarian Chili with Smoky Adobos and Acorn Squash

This Salsa is the Rooster’s Beak

Salsa may not be a thing of great consequence, but when you use a great recipe that you love making and everyone loves eating, it settles that one little area of life for you.   No more random store-bought stuff, no more hoping a recipe you found somewhere will work.  This one is it for me, I’m good.

Happiness in a bowl...

In the past when I’ve been in a pinch, I’ve tried choosing a salsa in the grocery store.  And although I’m sure there is a place somewhere that sells something fantastic, I haven’t had much luck yet.  I don’t know about you, but I find the gigantic selection of salsas at grocery stores both overwhelming and disappointing.  I see them all towering there in front of me as I pace back and forth, as though one is going to stop me and say “Look. You don’t need to go back to those jars down there.  That guy over there?  He’s watered down and pasty.  See that one?  He’s so full of sugar and vinegar that he might as well be made out of just tomatoes.  They suck.  I’m the one you want.”.  But as the jars haven’t started talking to me (yet), I stand there, sigh, and finally pick one at the intersection of Costs too Much and Looks Organic.

Being a person who loves veggies and who likes to cook, this is my solution to the salsa shopping dilemma.  This recipe is fresh, it’s chunky and it’s full of great flavors that make salsa worth eating.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Salsa Fresca – Makes approx. 4 cups

3-4 tomatoes, cut in half and squeezed of their juices

1 large green pepper, finely diced

1 jalapeno, seeded and minced (if you like heat, leave some of the seeds intact)

1 red onion, finely diced

1 avocado, pitted and small dice

1/2 c corn (fresh if possible, or frozen)

1/2 cooked beans of your choice (I used adzuki, but any bean will do!)

1/2 Tb salt

Freshly ground pepper

2 garlic cloves, minced (or 1 tsp garlic powder)

1 tsp chili powder

2 Tb cumin

1 Tb lime juice

1 Tb vinegar

2 tsp sugar

2 Tb olive oil

1/2 cup plain greek yogurt or sour cream, lowfat if possible

How-to:

This recipe is very simple to assemble, there are just a few tips that will make your final product really great:

  1. Prep all your veggies except your avocado.  They brown quickly, and this is one ingredient you are going to add just as you are about to serve it.
  2. Combine everything in a large mixing bowl except the yogurt, avocado and olive oil and let the mixture rest in your fridge for 3-8 hours.  The salt that was added is going to bring out the natural veggie  juices like the dickens, and this way you can just pour them off before you add the rest of your ingredients.
  3. After the fridge/de-liquiding time is over, stir the veggies around and give them a taste.  Some of the seasonings or salt may have been absorbed or poured off when you got rid of the excess juices, you can add more now if needed.
  4. Take 1/2 cup of the mixture and the olive oil and add it to a food processor or blender.  It does not have to be totally smooth, but you are looking to decrease the chunkiness of it.  Add this now smoothed-out mix and your yogurt to the mixing bowl and give it all a nice stir.  Retaste, adjust your seasonings as needed.
  5. Add your diced avocado, and you are ready for business!

There’s not much I don’t love this on: scrambled eggs, my brown rice, pan-fried fish, even cottage cheese.  And of course, chips!

I was wandering around Wikipedia today,  I thought I’d search under salsa and see if there were more things to learn.  It turns out, there were!  I found out a valuable lesson: there are salsa people, and then there are pico de gallo people.  I am a pico de gallo person.

I’ve always called this recipe salsa (and I guess really it is salsa fresca), but I think technically I should be calling it a pico de gallo.  According to those who know, salsa is supposed to be more of a sauce: Salsa Roja (red sauce), Salsa Verde (green sauce), Salsa Negra (yep,you guessed it, black sauce).   And although I’ve had some great salsas like this in restaurants around town, I don’t really want to make it at home.  I enjoy the texture and taste of fresh un-blended ingredients;  I like to see a whole melange of things going on in my salsa as opposed to the texture of the red-liquid type that sits soupily in its bowl, just waiting to fall onto my white t-shirt as it makes the trip to my mouth.

I also learned that Pico de Gallo literally means the “rooster’s beak”.  Nifty little fact!  And since I know you are dying to learn how such a tasty condiment would get that strange name, I’m going to share my new knowledge with you! 

“One of the sources for the name “rooster’s beak” could be the beak-like shape and the red color of the chilis used to make it. According to food writer Sharon Tyler Herbst, it is so called because originally it was eaten with the thumb and forefinger, and retrieving and eating the condiment resembled the actions of a pecking rooster.

Another suggested etymology is that pico is derived from the verb picar, which has two meanings: 1) to mince or chop, and 2) to bite, sting or peck. The rooster, gallo in Spanish, is a common metaphor for the hyper-masculine (“macho”) male in Mexican culture. One example of such machismo is taking pride in withstanding the spicy burn of chilis.”

Thanks, Wikipedia!  Learning is fun.