One of the first holidays of the summer season, Cinco de Mayo is also a food-centric celebration. For many, that means indulging in delicious Mexican specialties. Food-centered fetes can present challenges for people following a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. Happily, Mexican cuisine is full of options for those who don’t eat meat or other animal products.
Most Mexican restaurants offer vegetarian options on their menu. These usually include cheese- and bean-based versions of favorites like enchiladas and flautas. Often, dishes that are listed on the menu as having meat in them can be altered to include only vegetables. Historically, Mexican cuisine, and before that the diet of the Aztecs, didn’t have much in the way of meat. It mostly consisted of grains, fruits and vegetables. Since the foods are already full of flavor and spice, meat isn’t a necessary component of many Mexican dishes.
One concern that some may have about eating at Mexican restaurants is the use of lard for cooking. Traditionally refried beans and some other dishes are prepared in lard. That has changed somewhat as people have become more aware of the health risks posed by consuming lard in large amounts. If you’re concerned, check with the kitchen to see if they use lard in their cooking.
To avoid that concern entirely, try preparing your own vegetarian Mexican food at home. By controlling the ingredients and spice level, you can create food that suits your flavor and dietary desires. No Mexican meal would be complete without guacamole. This recipe uses Serrano peppers to give the overall flavor an extra kick. The guac can then be used as a topping for your favorite dish or just eaten on its own with chips.
The Serrano pepper can also be used in a salsa. Spicy and sweet flavors complement each other, so the combination of the peppers and pineapple in this salsa is a great balance. The base of the salsa is tomatillos which give it even more of a unique flavor.
For something a little heartier, try slow-cooked stuffed peppers. The stuffing for these combines tempeh, green chiles, corn and a variety of spices. Though specific ingredients are listed, think of your peppers as empty shells, and stuff them with whichever flavors you enjoy best.
Have a happy, and delicious, Cinco de Mayo!