..........a blog about food, travel, gardening, and living the good life in Arizona.

Monday, January 11, 2016

E is for epazote (eh-paw-ZOH-tay)

Epazote is native to Mexico and the tropical region of Central and South America, where it is commonly found wild. It is also widely naturalized throughout the world and the United States, especially California. In Mexican cooking, epazote is always added to the pot when cooking black beans for its natural carminative (gas-preventing) properties and because its potent aroma cuts the heavienss of the beans. Who knew!

When we started settling into our new home, I went in search of some cacti to add to our patio collection. An ad on Craigslist led me to a cacti sale in central Tucson held by a woman who had been growing cacti and succulents on her large residential property for several decades. There were so many varieties of cacti growing in the ground and in pots all over her property. I found several I wanted; one of them, a pine cone cactus had some other plant growing in the pot with it. The woman let me know it was epazote that had reseeded from her herb garden. It's especially good when cooked with black beans, she said. I had to have it; the cactus with the herb. So sweet.

All summer the herb grew effortlessly next to the cactus and now in January it's still doing fine after several prunings. I dried some of it, but most recipes call for fresh epazote and I can understand why. It's not unlike basil which is so much better fresh than dried so if you decide to use it, fresh is the way to go. Here is my black bean recipe with epazote:

Mexican Black Beans with Epazote (serves 2-3)

1/4 pound chopped fresh chorizo sausage
½ medium diced onion
1 diced carrot
1 diced celery stalk
2 garlic cloves chopped
1.5 tsp. ancho or New Mexico chile powder
1.5 tsp. ground cumin
1 large sprig fresh epazote chopped (or 1 tablespoons dried)
1 can black beans
1 cup chicken stock
1 Tbsp. fresh chopped cilantro
In a large, heavy skillet, brown chorizo sausage. Remove the chorizo, leaving the fat in the pan. Add onion, carrots, celery stalks, garlic and epazote to the pan and cook over medium heat until the vegetables become soft.

Add the can of black beans and the cooked chorizo to the vegetables, along with ancho or New Mexico chile powder, ground cumin, and salt to taste.

Cook on medium low heat for 15-20 minutes adding chicken stock to keep the beans moist. When ready to serve, top with chopped cilantro. Will keep for a couple of days in frig.

No comments:

Post a Comment