As our neighborhood, Sunset Park, is largely Mexican and Central American, so is “our” CSA farmer. As a result, he grows produce that will be appealing and recogizable to this demographic. That also means that I, as a dyed in the wool Yanquita, am encountering somethings for the first time, namely, the Mexican herb Epazote. Epazote is a green, pungent and slightly bitter herb that is great for adding a “bass note” to salsa, guacamole, beans, and well, pretty much anything. Epazote gets wilted fast, but one can store it either wrapped in a damp towel in the fridge or in a jar with water (I found the fridge method worked better). It also dries quickly and I dried a bunch by simply spreading the leaves out on a baking sheet in the oven (I didn’t even need to turn the oven on).
Inspired by this new-to-me herb I attempted two Mexican inspired meals: Tacos and Chilaquiles.
CSA Taco Night
The other weekend we made tacos that included fried beef, pinto beans, green salsa, and guacamole, all flavored with epazote and featuring other CSA vegetables like fresh garlic, red and white onions, . I felt like the epazote added a depth of flavor to the beans, guacamole, and salsa in a way that I had not tasted before when I made them myself. When adding epazote you only need 2 to 3 leaves, as the flavor is pretty strong.
Green Salsa with Epazote
10 tomatillos with outer skin removed.
1 clove garlic
1 to 2 jalapeno peppers
2 to 3 leaves epazote, chopped
Juice of 2 limes
Salt to taste
Remove stems from tomatillos and peppers and peel the garlic. Combine all the ingredients a food processor or blender and mix. If you don’t have a food processor, chopping and mixing works just as well. Fresh! Spicy! Delicious! Make extras, because after taco night the next day you just might want…
Chilaquiles, tortillas cooked in salsa, are just about the easiest and tastiest things you can make for breakfast. For one (big) serving:
2 to 3 corn tortillas, cut into strips
1 to 2 cups green salsa
2 or 3 leaves of epazote, chopped
1 half red onion, diced
2 eggs, fried
Extra beans, if you have them
Grated cheddar or crumbled queso fresco
Salt to taste
In a frying pan heat a few tablespoons of canola oil. Fry the tortilla strips and add salt to taste. When the torilla strips are friend reduce the heat to medium low and add the green salsa, epazote and onion. Stir frequently. While the tortillas cook, fry the eggs in another pan. Serve the chilaquiles with eggs, cheese, beans and whatever you want on top. Don’t forget the hot sauce!
One other member of the CSA reported that she offered an extra bunch of epazote to our favorite local restaurant, Eclipse. As a thanks, she got a free round of drinks. Apparently, epazote is not only a versatile herb, but also can serve as currency in Sunset Park.