If you love Mexican food but find it hard at times to locate good vegetarian options, Lorenza Muñoz has some ideas, as she explored in her article on Mexican vegetarian dishes:
"Meatless dishes actually have a long history in Mexican cuisine," she wrote. "The diet of the Aztecs and other Indians was heavy on grains, fruits and vegetables, and it wasn't until the Spaniards colonized Mexico that the carnivorous culture of pork and beef really became the backbone of what we now consider Mexican food."
Mexican lasagna: Take her version of this comfort food. Smoky poblano chiles are a perfect substitute for meat in this dish, a mixture of the slightly sweet, mild chiles and fresh corn lending rich depth of flavor. Layer lasagna noodles with the chile-corn mixture and a smooth, slightly tangy sour cream and fresh cotija cheese blend, topping with quesadilla and cotija cheeses and tomato sauce. Assemble the dish ahead of time if you like, so all you have to do is throw it in the oven when you get home.
Zetas with garlic and pasilla chiles: Finally, Muñoz's zetas -- or, mushrooms -- with garlic and pasilla chiles make a hearty dish that works wonders as a side or main course, and the whole thing comes together in less than 30 minutes.
Huitlacoche quesadillas: Huitlacoche, also known as corn fungus or corn "smut," may not sound like your first choice for quesadilla filling -- and you can fill your quesadillas with whatever you like -- but huitlacoche lends a definite earthy richness to the quesadillas and a robustness similar to truffles to the finished dish. You can find the recipe below.
Total time: 25 minutes / Servings: 4
Note: Huitlacoche can be found at select Latin markets; call ahead to make sure. It is also available online.
1 tablespoon oil
1/4 onion, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 serrano peppers, minced
1 (7-ounce) can of huitlacoche
6 to 8 (6- to 7-inch) corn tortillas
1 (12-ounce) package Oaxaca cheese, sliced
1. In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add the onions, garlic and minced peppers and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are softened, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the huitlacoche and heat until it begins to bubble, stirring frequently, then remove from heat and set aside.
2. Assemble the quesadillas: Heat a tortilla on the stovetop (this can be done directly on the stovetop or using a comal, or griddle pan). Add sliced cheese to one-half of the tortilla, and when it has melted, add a scoop of the huitlacoche mixture. Fold the tortilla over and hold in a warm place until all of the quesadillas have been assembled. Repeat with the remaining tortillas. Serve immediately.
Each serving: 455 calories; 25 grams protein; 22 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 31 grams fat; 17 grams saturated fat; 76 mg cholesterol; 2 grams sugar; 478 mg sodium.