September 15 through October 15 is National Hispanic Heritage Month! This month is officially recognized to celebrate “the histories, cultures, and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central, and South America.” Here are some of our favorite recipes from around the Spanish-speaking world, as well as ingredients to help you celebrate Hispanic culture in your own cocina.
Breakfast - Desayuno
- Pan de Queso (aka Pao de Queijo in Brazil) is a popular breakfast item and snack made primarily from cheese and tapioca flour. There are many variations, including both sweet and savory options, and it’s great for people on high-fat, low-carb diets like Keto. Here is a quick and easy Pan de Queso recipe for you to try.
- Chilaquiles are one of Mexico’s favorite breakfast items. Essentially breakfast nachos, they feature homemade tortilla chips with a warm salsa, queso fresco, crema, and onions. Add your choice of proteins like chorizo and top them with a sunny side up egg and they are a warm and hearty start to the day!
- Salteñas have the honor of being the national dish of Bolivia! These crescent shaped packets of dough are filled with meat, usually chicken or beef, and have a distinctive flavor and color from a distinctive blend of spices, including adobo and achiote. While this special type of empanada is normally served as a snack between breakfast and lunch, we happen to think it’s delicious any time of day.
Lunch - Almuerzo
- From trucks to takeout, the almighty taco is beloved and adapted around the world. Mexican street tacos offer nearly bite-sized portability. Here in the Seattle area, Tacos Chukis has built a mini empire on the strength of their signature namesake tacos which feature adobada pork and grilled pineapple. Here’s a recipe to make them at home.
- Argentinian empanadas pack a whole lot of flavor into a portable pocket of dough. Whether purchased as a grab-and-go street food or lovingly prepared at home, empanadas are a staple in Argentine food culture. There are many regional variations, but this one, Empanadas Mendocinas, features smoked paprika and picante that give the beef inside a bright red color.
- Although the inclusion of an egg may make it seem more like breakfast, Arroz Con Huevo is the lunch of choice for people in many Latin countries. Add a few slices of avocado or some fried plantains as well as your favorite seasonings (see Tajín below) and you’ve got a foodie-worthy midday meal!
Dinner - Cena
- Hominy is the base of one of Mexico’s signature stews: Pozole. It’s a festive dish enjoyed as an everyday meal and traditionally served on special occasions including New Year’s Eve, Mexican Independence Day, birthdays, Christmas, and other holidays. Pozole comes in several different colors and is made with a variety of proteins, such as this Green Pozole with Chicken.
- Ropa Vieja translates literally as “old clothes” but this Cuban dish tastes a whole lot better! It includes tender beef shredded and braised with onions and peppers in a flavorful tomato sauce. Typically served with white rice and black beans, Ropa Vieja is considered one of the national dishes of Cuba.
- The national dish of Mexico, Mole, is actually not a meal but a sauce that has a fascinating and widely-debated origin story. Types and flavors of mole, such as roji, negro, and almendrado, vary from city to city and household to household. You will often find it on the menu with chicken and enchiladas.
- Tortilla Fresca uncooked tortillas fry up perfectly at home – you’d never know they weren’t homemade! Grab a batch at Costco and throw them on a cast iron skillet or non-stick pan for around 30 seconds per side.
- Tajín is a beloved and versatile spice blend made with peppers, lime, and salt. Sprinkle some on watermelon, roasted corn, eggs, and more. You can even rim drinks like Bloody Marys with it. Go ahead – spice things up!
- Jicama is one of those ingredients we wish more people knew about and embraced! It’s a fibrous root veggie that fries up crispy and is also delicious and crunchy cold. Try it sliced in a salad with some watermelon, sauced in a slaw with cabbage, or brined with other veggies and jalapeño.
“You have to taste a culture to understand it.” – Deborah Cater
Wherever in the world you head on your culinary adventures from the comfort of your kitchen, we wish you buena suerte, good luck, and Happy National Hispanic Heritage Month!