Discover the lighter side of Mexican vegetarian cuisine via these sophisticated salads
The Mexican Vegetarian Cookbook helps bust those 'unhealthy' myths about Mexican cuisine
When you picture a Mexican menu, you may not imagine a space for a salad section. In Europe and much of the US, Mexican cuisine is viewed as “greasy, unhealthy and unbalanced, with little variety and excess sugar”, writes author and cook Margarita Carrillo Arronte in her new book. This view is patentlly false, as Arronte, a chef and TV host who successfully campaigned for Mexican cuisine to be entered into UNESCO”s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, well knows.
In The Mexican Vegetarian Cookbook, she details a huge variety of light, healthy, meat-free Mexican dishes, from artichoke and fava bean platters, through to traditional ‘poor tacos’, filled with sautéed potato peelings. Yet the section where Mexico’s incredible flora and inventive cookery truly shines through is in the book’s salads and sides section. This features simple vegetable salads, such as one made up of tender green beans, there’s a simple vegetable salad of tomato, avocado, onion and almonds; a slightly more exotic tasting coconut and green bean salad, dressed with olive oil and ginger, as well as a light and tangy roasted jícama salad with apple and poblano chile dressing (top image).
Coconut and green bean salad
To make this final dish you’ll need a medium, juicy jícama (that’s also sometimes known as a Mexican turnip); as well as a shallot, 6 tablespoons olive oil; a poblano chile, dry-roasted, peeled, and seeded; a tablespoon rice vinegar; a gala or yellow apple, peeled, cored, and sliced into rings; 1½ cups (1½ oz/45 g) of baby spinach or arugula (rocket) leaves; a ¼ cup (1½ oz/40 g) of roasted pistachios, peeled and roughly chopped; and sea salt and black pepper.
First preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C/Gas Mark 5). Wrap the jícama in foil, place on a baking tray and bake for 2 hours. Peel the shallot and put it in a ramekin with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Bake for 30 minutes, until soft, then remove from the oven. After 2 hours, take the jícama out of the oven, remove the foil, peel and cut it into batons. Put the shallot with its oil, half of the poblano chile and 2 tablespoons of water in a food processor or blender, and blend until smooth and homogeneous. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Meanwhile, whisk the rice vinegar with the remaining oil, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix the apple slices and leaves gently with the jícama, in a serving bowl. Pour over the oil and vinegar dressing and toss gently. Serve garnished with chopped pistachios and the remaining poblano chile, sliced, with the poblano dressing on the side.
The Mexican Vegetarian Cookbook
For greater detail on this recipe, as well as recipes for all the dishes mentioned, order a copy of The Mexican Vegetarian Cookbook here.