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Mushroom Papadzules

Classic papadzules is a dish from the Yucatán area where soft corn tortillas are stuffed with hard boiled eggs and coated in a green sauce colored from pumpkin seeds and epazote and finished with a fresh tomato sauce. That is a mouthful. In my version I substitute mushrooms instead of eggs.

Although this dish sounds complicated it literally can be made in about twenty minutes. Roast the tomatoes in the oven while you sauté the onion. Blend those while you roast the pumpkin seeds and then let them cool while you make a “stock” out of a handful of chopped onions and a sprig of epazote. Rinse the blender and add the stock along with the pumpkins seeds and blend until you form a cream sauce. Sauté the mushrooms until soft and warm the tortillas. Adjust the seasoning with salt in all of those dishes and you are ready to roll the small enchiladas. Cover them with pumpkin sauce and garnish with tomato sauce. You’re done. And I usually only use one skillet and wash it in between!

There is a certain rhythm to Mexican food that I enjoy. Simple ingredients are combined in layers of flavor to make something really complex. That is what happens here.

The tomato sauce is a simple three ingredients – but the roasting of the tomatoes brings out the inherent sweetness of the fruit and makes it taste so fresh.

The stock is made with three ingredients one of which is water. Epazote is an unusual herb for many and this year I’m fortunate to have it growing in the garden, but you can use the dried form if you don’t have it available. The fresh herb is way more pungent – sometimes described as a medicinal cross between oregano, anise, and mint – but it is essential in this sauce. The pumpkin seeds need to be “raw” which are sometimes also hard to find. Avoid those that are toasted and salted – you really do need the raw ones for this recipe to capture the green color of the seeds.

And oh boy this sauce. You will think its made with fresh cream – but it is entirely plant based.

And finally the hard boiled eggs, or in this case the mushrooms. This is a very healthy dish in the traditional preparation but it goes vegan with the substitution of mushrooms which I think make it even more hearty. Papadzules are really an unbelievably good dinner item so try both versions and let me know which one you prefer.

5 small tomatoes, fresh if available

1 medium onion, chopped

1 sprig epazote (if fresh is not available, 1 tsp of the dried herb is about equivalent to 1 sprig)

3 cups mushrooms, roughly chopped

3/4 cup pumpkin seeds, raw

6 to 8 corn tortillas, steamed and warmed in the microwave

salt, to taste

grapeseed oil, as needed

Broil the tomatoes under a broiler until blackened. Let cool slightly and remove the chard skins and place the fruit in a blender. Sauté 1/3 of the onion with a small amount of oil until they are soft and then add it to the blender and liquify to form a sauce. Add salt to taste and set aside.

Toast the pumpkin seeds in a pan until they puff slightly and smell nutty. Do not burn them. Set them aside and bring an amount of water (about 4 cups) to boil in a pan and add the epazote and onions. Reduce the heat slightly and let it simmer about 10 minutes. Strain the mixture and place the liquid in a blender with the reserved pumpkin seeds. Blend until completely velvety smooth. Return the sauce to the pan and keep warm. It should be the thickness of cream soup so if it is too thick add some additional water. Adjust the seasoning with salt to taste.

Heat a small amount of oil to a shimmer and add the mushrooms and sauté until slightly wilted. You want them to still have some meaty texture. Adjust the seasoning with salt to taste.

Roll a tortilla around several spoonfuls of the sautéed mushrooms and place seam side down on the plate. Spoon on and almost cover the tortillas with the pumpkin sauce. Garnish the top with the fresh tomato sauce. Serve warm.

Note: This makes about six to eight enchiladas which is an appetizer serving for 4 or a dinner for 2. You will likely have extra pumpkin sauce – which you can drink if you like. And, you probably will.

#papadzules #mushrooms #epazote

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Dan McCoy