Monday, March 05, 2007

Pupusas

A Vegan Lunch Box reader named Melissa emailed me a few months ago suggesting that this recipe for pupusas would make a tasty vegan lunch. Pupusas are traditional El Salvadorian corn masa "cakes" filled with meat, cheese, or beans that are patted flat and fried. They are often sold by street vendors in El Salvador and Honduras.

My lumpy little pupusas are filled with refried black beans and cilantro. I must admit I have not yet achieved Masa Mastery; my dough kept tearing and sticking, leaving bits of refried bean poking out as I tried to round the dough balls and pat them flat. Eventually I came out with a few decent-looking pupusas, but even the really ugly ones still tasted good. I packed them with a small container of salsa.

Melissa serves her pupusas with a simple pickled radish slaw, so I followed her lead. This slaw is filled with green and purple cabbage, radishes, vinegar, and cilantro (I'm on a real slaw kick lately, now that I know I like it).

I also made my recipe for Calabacita con Elote (Mexican zucchini and corn) from Vegan Lunch Box. As I revisit some of my recipes with the nutritional knowledge I now have, I'm finding ways to make them healthier. In this case, I steam-fried the veggies with a bit of water instead of oil, then stirred in the marjoram with a tablespoon of Late Harvest Riesling Vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar, sugar and salt. We actually preferred the lighter taste of the white grape vinegar over the original recipe.

To finish the meal on a sweet note I tucked in an organic baby banana and a tangelo. (After taking the picture, shmoo requested that I score the tangelo for easier peeling and wrap it in plastic.)

Verdict: Sadly, this wasn't one of shmoo's favorites, although I thought it made a nice-looking, healthy, well-balanced lunch. He liked the fruit and pupusas and ate them all, but just picked some of the radishes and corn out of the veggie dishes. 3 stars.

Thanks so much, Melissa, for introducing us to pupusas!

31 comments:

coryza said...

yum, radishes!

Ilene said...

Thanks to you and Melissa for finally resolving the now age-old question: What is a pupusa? We see signs for them everywhere in L.A. but were a little embarrassed to ask (I'm usually busy inquiring as to whether the burritos contain manteca -- lard).

They sound delicious - thanks for the recipe!

THE HOLE THING said...

So glad to see a vegan blog. Good for you ! I'll be back very soon for lots of great info Louise

ByTheBay said...

Yum. Are your kids able to heat up their food at school? Becuase pupusas taste pretty yucky cold. Though maybe kids aren't as picky ;-P

Here are my pupusa and curtido de repollo recipes (curtido is the traditional accompaniment for pupusas):

Pupusas con Curtido de Repollo

I really think the ones with beans are just as tasty as the ones with cheese... Though my favorites contain both!

Jennifershmoo said...

>>Are your kids able to heat up their food at school?

Yes, he actually does have a microwave in his lunch room this year, although I do think most of the kids don't seem to mind eating things cold or at room temperature. He did not warm up his pupusas.

Kahlmer said...

Pupusas are one of my most favorite things. There's a restaurant here that makes them with pumpkin and loroco and they're great. Also, you may like them better with curtido.

Don't worry about making them perfect! At the restaurant I get them at, there's always filling hanging out here and there with no bad results.

Melissa said...

I've been reading your blog for several months now and I just wanted to thank you for such an inspiring blog. I just ordered your cookbook and am looking forward to trying out your recipes. I would also love to hear more from your Vegan Weight Watchin' mom.

vintagecatra said...

When I make pupusas, I often just pat it flat and then fold it in half, pinching the ends together ( a little like a calzone). The cabbage usually has chile in it, which I'm sure your son wouldn't like, but you might want to try. Another really cool Salvadorian dish would be chile relleno. Unlike the Mexican version, this one is a baked chili filled with cheese and spices. You could totally veganize that!

Jenny said...

I just got back from Pittsburgh, where they served slaw with almost everything!

Tilly said...

Awesome! Pupusas!! I spent a long time in London looking for somewhere I could buy them! Guess I can have a try at making some now I'm in the sticks in NZ!

funwithyourfood said...

Melissa had a neat idea. Sounds great
It interesting to see other countries native "fast food".


Teddy

NightOwl said...

I LOVE pupusas! I'm of CostaRican descent, and spent my younger years in the SF Bay Area, where you can get all sorts of delicious LatinAmerican food. You could definitely make them with Follow Your Heart cheese. And the loroco ones are amazing! How fun, so glad you tried this recipe!

Roxy said...

This does look like a well-balanced lunch. Too bad Schmoo didn't like it so much! I think it looks fantastic. I also like cole slaw a lot more now than I did when I was younger. I love a good apple-carrot-purple cabbage-raisin slaw!

bazu said...

Fun! I'd never heard of papusas before- thanks to you and Melissa for the introduction.

About slaws... aren't they the BEST? I'll take some in absolutely any form.

Twisted Cinderella said...

I have never heard of pupusas either, but they look wonderful! I will definitely give these a try!

Bradley said...

The pupusas are great and highly addictive, sort of like empanadas.

Chexbres2 said...

Forgive me, but where did you get that cool compartmentalized lunchbox?

Kahlmer said...

The lunchbox is from:

http://www.laptoplunches.com/

Nico Nixie Knox said...

I made some with chili beans and cheese (sorry not vegan here) and instead of the dip you suggested, I made a yogurt tahini/almond butter dip with a drop of maple syrup, and it was delicious, and the 4.5 year old thought so too. Luckily her school heats things up for her, because they aren't so tasty cold.

islandveggie said...

Even my 3 year old can peel an orange with an orange peeler found here! http://www.vegetarianteen.com/articles/kitchenutensils.shtml
We had them when I was a kid so mine are 20+ years old and still going strong (minus a few chew marks) You should give it a whirl they fit great in lunchboxes.
PS. Can your book be bought at any stores in canada or only online?
I love you blog. I can't wait for DS to start school!

Jennifershmoo said...

That's the same tool we use but I always thought it was called a scorer; scoring is making a very shallow cut, just through the rind. Guess I need to call it a peeler!

>>PS. Can your book be bought at any stores in canada or only online?

I'm afraid it's not available at any stores in Canada right now, but I am happy to ship to Canada if you order from my website. Thanks!

Liliy said...

Wow! Has anyone seen the Vive Le Vegan Blog lately? Both that blog and this one had something about a blogger named Melissa in their posts on the same day!

KateMV said...

Looks great! I can't wait to get my cookbook.

Julie said...

I ate at Legal Seafood over the weekend, and they had some yummy vegan options!

Katharine said...

Another lunch recipe suggestion:
Ultimate Veggie Burgers - Sprouted Garbanzo Burgers
http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/001567.html
with an egg replacement for the egg binding. The author Heidi suggests making the veggie the bun, and filling it with fixin's--totally different. I'm curious on your take, and what Schmoo thinks of it.

Jennifershmoo said...

I think they sound fantastic -- except for the eggs, of course. I imagine egg replacer or blended silken tofu could replace the eggs.

I think it's a brilliant concept: do away with the bun and use two veggie patties instead. Perfect!

Kathleen said...

Thanks so much for inspiring me to make pupusas! I can't get them where I live, and I love them. I don't know why it never occured to me to just make them. ANyway, I tried them and they were fantastic! I posted it on my blog.

J said...

Jennifer,
Thanks sooo much for posting a vegan recipe for pupusas! I am 1/2 Salvadoran and slowly transitioning towards a more vegan diet, and I was trying to figure out how I could enjoy one of my favorite (but woefully unvegan) foods! I have limited masa skills but I am definitely going to try to make your recipe. Thanks sooo much! :-)

Kathy said...

Mmmmm...pupusas are delicious! Just about anything would be good in a thick coating of cooked masa, at least as a general rule. Next time, try making some curdito to go with them (good stuff to have around the house in general!): http://www.whats4eats.com/recipes/r_sal_curtido.html

Scribe said...

One of the tricks to shaping any kind of corn-based meal (such as for pupusas, or Colombian arepas and pan de bono), is to knead it A LOT. I usually take the amount of dough I want, make a little ball of it, and just play with it in my hands for about 2 minutes. It helps to even out the ingredients and makes the whole thing more easily workable, and prevents tearing. It's worth a try!

red said...

thank you



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