For Catholics around the world, Ash Wednesday through Easter Sunday – Lent, is a special time to reflect, give thanks and spread kindness. It’s also a time for repentance where people will give up an indulgence and refocus their lives. Most Catholics will give up things they love for the 40 days leading up to Easter like candy or fast food. A lot of people choose to give up meat or go vegetarian during this time, so I’m sharing two of my favorite meat-less/vegetarian dishes. It’s easy to keep repeating the same meals over and over, but I encourage you guys to take this time to mix it up and try cooking some of these easy and delicious recipes at home!
Patacón Pisado – crispy slices of green plantains with a red bean spread and topped with salty cotija cheese, yum!
Panela Sticks – these are a must-try for parents with kids. They’re quick and easy to make, perfect as a snack before a big game! See the complete recipe here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ny4c4xnIHks
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WHAT YOU NEED
- ¼ pound dried red beans (½ to ¾ cup)
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 4 green plantains (about 1½ pounds)
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 medium white onion, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons ground cumin
- ¼ cup dried whole oregano (preferably Mexican)
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Corn oil, for frying
- 1 cup Pickled Onions, My Way, drained
- 1 cup grated Cacique® Cotija cheese
HOW TO MAKE IT
- Put the beans in a medium saucepan with the bay leave and add enough water to cover the beans. Bring to a simmer and cook until the beans are tender and no longer mealy, 1 to 2 hours. Drain the beans and set them aside. Discard the bay leaf.
- Half-fill a large saucepan with cold water and bring to a boil. Trim each end off the plantains and make two long cuts, just through the skin, along the sides of each. Boil the plantains whole for 20 seconds, then remove and run under cold water. Remove and discard the skin. Cut the plantains crosswise in ½-inch-thick slices. Set aside.
- Put the olive oil, chopped onion, and garlic in a medium skillet and set it over medium heat. Cook until the onion and garlic are tender and slightly browned, 5 minutes. Add the cumin and oregano and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cooked beans. Transfer to a food processor and process to a fairly smooth paste. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Heat ¼ inch of corn oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat until the oil registers 300°F on a deep-fry thermometer. Fry the plantain slices in batches until they’re tender and golden brown.
- Transfer the plantain slices to a paper towel-lined plate. Once you have fried all of them, use a spatula to lay each piece on a cutting board and use the flat side of the spatula to press each slice flat, to a thickness of about ¼ inch. Working in batches, refry the slices briefly, 1 to 2 minutes, until golden brown all over. Transfer them to fresh paper towels to drain.
- Spread a layer of the bean puree over the fried plantains, add some of the Pickled Onions, My Way, and sprinkle each one with some of the cheese, serve right away.