When I think of Mexico, I think of hot chillies, corn, tortillas, beans, tomatoes, avocados, cactus, Mayan empire… When the Spanish conquered Mexico in the 16th century, they added to the culinary evolution and what we have is a cuisine that is as rich and varied as the county itself. Here is my very basic elements to create a vegan burrito bowl. You can add a fajita to this or mix and match in any way you wish.
POT of BEANS
This is so simple but so delicious. Be sure to get good quality dry black beans and when you soak them, they are a deep claret coloured. It is worth the effort to make from scratch and recommend resisting the urge to use tinned ones as the end result with dried black beans is just so much nicer tasting.
400 grams dry black beans
300 grams onions, sliced thinly
5-6 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
50 grams tinned tomatoes
1 small potato, peeled and diced
Salt to taste
Pour the dried black beans on a white plate and pick through to remove little stones or misshapen beans. Rinse and drain. Soak the beans in plenty of water for 24 hours.
After soaking, drain the water and rinse. Put beans into the body of a pressure pan. Add two cups of water and the small potato. Pressure cook for 20 minutes on low heat after the first whistle. Remove when cool and check that the beans are well cooked.
Heat oil in a large saucepan and tip the garlic cloves. When they are beginning to turn brown, add the onions. Fry on a low heat for ten minutes. Lightly mash the cooked beans and add to the pot along with the tomato and salt.
Cook for 15 -20 minutes until it is softened. (If you do not have a pressure cooker, add the soaked beans and potato to the pot and cook for 2-3 hours until softened.)
ARROZ VERDE – GREEN RICE
½ cup frozen spinach, thawed
½ cup coriander leaves, stalks and leaves, roughly chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, chopped
2-3 green chillies like serrano or cayenne
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
150g onion, chopped
4 cups cold, cooked long grain rice
In a blender, combine the spinach, chillies, coriander and garlic. Blend to a fine paste using a couple of spoons of water as needed.
Heat a sauté pan over medium high heat; add the oil and onion. Sauté until the onion is translucent. Add the rice and cook until heated through (about 3-4 minutes).
Pour the coriander, chilli puree. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle water, cover with a lid and turn up the heat for a few minutes. When you can smell the coriander flavour, turn off the heat and serve hot immediately.
CORN & COURGETTE (COLACHE)
This is a versatile recipe as it could be used as a side dish as well as a vegetarian filling for tacos and burritos. Bonus is its simplicity and ease.
The original recipe calls for epazote but I have substituted with oregano, mint and lemon rind.
150 grams onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely diced
3 zucchini or courgette, diced
1 red chilli, finely chopped
½ cup sweetcorn kernels
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon dried mint
½ teaspoon lemon rind
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat oil in a small fry pan.
Add onion and garlic and cook until soft.
Tip the zucchini, chilli, sweetcorn and the oregano, mint and lemon rind. Cook for about 10 minutes on low heat. Season with salt and pepper.
FRESH SALSA or PICO DE GALLO
Fresh salsas are what complement and complete the Mexican meal. This is the most common version made with tomatoes, onion and green chillies.
200 grams cherry tomatoes, halved
150 grams red onion, finely chopped
1-3 fresh jalapenos or hot green chillies of your choice
2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
¼ cup fresh coriander, chopped
Flaky sea salt
Add lime juice and salt to onion. Set aside for about 30 minutes to soften the raw flavour. Add finely diced chillies, tomatoes and coriander and serve immediately.