Monday, June 11, 2007

Vegetarian Puchero

Puchero is a dish of Spanish origin that is served with many variations all over Latin America. It is a dish that can easily be made vegetarian. If one were to gauge Mexican cuisine by what is served in restaurants in the United States, one could surmise that Mexicans don't eat vegetables except in salsas. But, here is an example of a dish that is packed heartily with vegetables. It is usually served on Sundays. So keeping with that tradition, I made it yesterday. The way I prepared it is very similar to how it is prepared in the Yucatan. It was my first time making it, so the recipe isn't perfected yet. But here is what is in it:

Vegetarian Puchero in the Style of Yucatan

1 head of roasted garlic
spices: oregano, cloves, cumin, saffron, peppercorns, allspice berries, and salt
vegetables/fruits: plantains, squash (acorn or butternut or any), chayotes, potatoes, camotes or sweet potatoes, carrots, or also commonly used are cabbage and turnips
garbanzo beans (I was out, so I used fava - this made the broth darker than usual)
herbs: cilantro and yerbabuena (wild mint)
grains: rice and fideos (angel hair pasta nests)

Garnish: minced radishes and cilantro in lime juice

All of the vegetables cook in the soup in large chunks with the skin still on them. When the vegetables are soft, they are removed from the broth and are peeled (if needed) and cut into smaller pieces. They are often served on a platter placed in the middle of the table. Then, each person is given a bowl of the broth, which contains the beans, rice and fideos. There is the option of eating the broth as a first course with the radish, cilantro and lime garnish. Then the chunks of vegetables could be eaten separately as the next course or even in tacos. Or, the vegetables can be returned to the broth to eat as a soupy stew, still topping with garnish.

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