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Saturday, October 8, 2022
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    This vegan pozole verde highlights the subtly sweet flavours of corn

    G Daniela Galarza

    THE WASHINGTON POST – Pozole verde, the pre-Columbian chile-laden stew, starts with corn.

    A symbol of life and prosperity in ancient cultures, corn is “undoubtedly the most defining food crop in the history of the Americas,” chef and baker Roxana Jullapat wrote in her new cookbook, Mother Grains: Recipes for the Grain Revolution.

    “There is this idea, I think, in a lot of people’s heads in this country, that all corn is bad,” Jullapat, a co-owner of the Los Angeles cafe and bakery Friends & Family, said.

    “But like every food, you have to go back to the source. You have to go back to the grain, to the farm, to the grower.”

    Full of flavour, texture and nutrition, this pozole does not need chicken – but you could certainly add a few ounces of cubed meat in with the onions, allowing the stew to simmer until the meat is cooked through and tender.

    The only step you shouldn’t skip? Toasting cumin seeds and then grinding them in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle. “The flavour and aroma of freshly toasted cumin seeds is central to this dish,” Jullapat wrote.

    Vegan Pozole Verde. PHOTO: THE WASHINGTON POST

    A bevy of toppings offer the option of contrasting textures and flavours: Shredded cabbage, sliced radishes, fresh cilantro and cubes of avocado are a good start.

    Also good? Tortilla chips, pickled cauliflower, minced chives, crumbled cotija or feta (vegan or not), your favourite hot sauce, a dollop of crema or sour cream or Greek yogurt. Plus, always, lots of lime.

    Other than that, fortified with centuries of technique and a balance of nourishing grains and vegetables, this pozole is pretty much perfect.

    VEGAN POZOLE VERDE

    Active time: 40 minutes | Total time: 50 minutes

    4 servings

    Smoky and spicy with the flavours of charred green peppers and freshly toasted cumin, this vegan take on pozole is fresh and filling. From Mother Grains, a cookbook by Los Angeles-based chef Roxana Jullapat, the dish highlights the lightly sweet flavour of hominy, a nixtamalized corn. Jullapat prefers to cook her hominy from dried, but in this version, we’re calling for canned hominy, organic if you can find it, which shaves a day off the prep time. Charring the green peppers and toasting whole cumin seeds gives this soup an incredible depth of flavour. In a pinch, you can use one, four-ounce can of green chiles in place of the poblanos and jalapeños, and 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin, if you don’t want to toast and then grind the whole seeds.

    Make Ahead: Soup, without garnish, may be made up to 5 days in advance and reheated. You may need to add more water to thin it out.

    Storage Notes: Leftover soup can be refrigerated for up to five days.

    Where to Buy: Canned organic hominy and canned tomatillos may be found at well-stocked grocery stores, Hispanic markets or online.

    INGREDIENTS

    2 poblano peppers

    1 small jalapeño chile peppers

    2 teaspoons cumin seeds

    3 tablespoons olive oil

    1 small yellow onion (about 4 ounces), sliced

    2 cloves garlic, sliced

    1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves and stems

    One (14-ounce) can tomatillos, drained

    3 cups water, plus more as needed

    One (25-ounce) can hominy, drained

    Kosher salt, to taste

    Shredded cabbage, diced avocado, sliced radishes, cilantro sprigs and lime wedges, for garnish and serving

    DIRECTIONS

    Char the peppers: If using a broiler, position a rack five inches from the broiler and turn it on. Place the poblanos and jalapeños on a baking sheet; broil until they blister and brown, watching them carefully and turning them with tongs until they are charred all over, but still firm, about five minutes on each side. To char them over a gas stove, place them on the stove grates and use long tongs to turn them frequently, until each pepper has charred. Immediately transfer them to a paper bag and fold it up tight – or to a bowl, covered tightly with a plate or with plastic wrap – and allow them to steam for 10 to 15 minutes. Peel and seed the peppers, then roughly chop them.

    While the peppers are charring, in a small skillet over medium heat, lightly toast cumin seeds until fragrant, swirling the pan to prevent them from burning, about one minute. Allow them to cool for about one minute and then, using a mortar and pestle or spice grinder, grind them into a fine powder.

    In a large pot over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil until it shimmers. Add the onion, garlic, cilantro and chopped charred peppers and cook until the onion appears translucent, five minutes. Add the tomatillos and cook for about two minutes. Add the water and cumin, lower the heat to medium and simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.

    Using a stick blender, puree until smooth. (If using a standing blender, puree in batches as needed to avoid overflow.)

    Return the pot to medium-high heat and add the drained hominy. Simmer for another 10 minutes, then adjust the consistency with more water, if desired, and taste and season with salt, if desired. Serve in bowls and top with shredded cabbage, diced avocado, sliced radishes, cilantro sprigs and lime wedges.

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