Vegan Pozole Rojo
If one were to think of Mexican comfort food, tacos, enchiladas, and burritos may come to mind. However, whether pozole is white, green or red it would be right up there too. Pozole rojo (red) is a traditional stew of Mexico and Central America made with pork, hominy, and red chilies and usually served with condiments like finely shredded green cabbage, diced white onions, thinly sliced radishes, diced avocados and a wedge of lime. Although made with pork, the predominant ingredient is hominy. Unlike sweet corn that most of us are familiar with, hominy is dried field corn that has the outer shell removed and then is soaked in an alkaline solution (lye) causing them to puff up. This process is called nixtamalization which makes them more digestible and more nutritious. Although a processed food, hominy is more nutritious than its original corn kernel. Nixtamalizing creates bioavailability of vitamin B. Vegans have few foods that provide vitamin B so this ingredient should become a vegan mainstay. It is best to only use organic tortillas and hominy when available. Natural Peel is an organic alternative to lye that eliminates bleaching agents like sodium bisulfite. Also look for hominy in non-BPA lined cans.
Pozole rojo has a rich mild chili flavor. In this recipe shiitake mushrooms and butternut squash take the place of pork in a very flavorful way. The mushrooms give a savory flavor to the broth and butternut squash gives a pleasing hearty texture. Although sometimes served as a soup this is really an entrée stew that is an entire meal when served with condiments and tortillas to scoop up all the delicious hominy, mushrooms, and squash
4 to 6 servings
2 tablespoons sunflower seed oil
1 cup white onion, small dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded, caps quartered
2 cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded, ¾ -inch dice
18 ounces canned hominy, drained, rinsed (preferably organic)
2 teaspoons guajillo chili powder*
2 teaspoons ancho chili powder*
1 teaspoon dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
2 teaspoon sea salt
1 quart vegetable or mushroom broth
1 large lime, quartered or more
½ cup white onion, chopped
¼ small head of green cabbage, finely shredded
4 radishes, thinly sliced
1 avocado, chopped
4 warm tortillas or chips (preferably organic)
1. Heat a large sauce pot over medium-high heat. Add the oil. When the oil shimmers add the onions, garlic, and mushrooms and cook until softened, about four minutes.
2. Add the remaining stew ingredients. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer until the squash is just barely soft, about ten to fifteen minutes. Taste, Think, Transform with salt and/or chilies.
3. Serve in soup bowls. Pass the garnishes in smaller bowls.
*Can substitute a whole dry guajillo and ancho pepper by discarding the stems, seeds, veins and washing pieces. This is the slow foods (but so good) method: Soak in hot filtered water for twenty-five to thirty minutes. Drain water into a bowl. Puree in a blender with a bit of the reserved chili water to make a paste. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve to remove the bitter skins. Add to the stew to simmer.