¡Salud! Vegan Mexican Cookbook Review + Trying Recipes
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Mexican food is my husband, Kris's, favorite food. For some holiday one year, he bought me ¡Salud! Vegan Mexican Cookbook by Eddie Garza and we jokingly called it a gift for him and not for me, since I'm the only cook in this relationship. It's been a few years and honestly, I've never been good at making other people's recipes. I'm not a recipe follower. I'm one of those people that throws a bunch of things into a pot or pan and somehow really makes it work.
Last November, I did an experiment and went fully whole foods plant based and tracked all my food macros and nutrients, which meant I needed to measure things. I figured this is as good as time as any to start following recipes, right? With all that time, I've gotten pretty good at it! And hey, I even record my own recipes for you now!
Mexican food is not something I've cooked at home much, so when I saw Cinco de Mayo rolling around, I knew I wasn't going to be able to quickly throw together something and do it justice. Eddie Garza to the rescue!
I'm incapable of doing anything just a little bit, so I decided to go all in on recipes and make a bunch of stuff (which definitely had Kris HYPED). Below is the run down of what I made, plus any bonus recipes I had to make to get through another recipe. Some of the recipes called for the veggie stock (page 231) in the book, but I just used Better Than Bouillon veggie base.
Stone Ground Maize Meal Porridge (page 34)
Mexican Lentil Soup (page 54)
Elotes (page 72)
Almond Queso Cotija (page 73)
Cashew Crema Mexicana (page 230)
Grilled Chimichurri Tofu Steaks with peppers and onions (page 156)
Cilantro Lime Rice (page 162)
Before I get in to the nitty gritty and tell you about these recipes, I just want you to know that I am not including the recipes in this post out of respect for the author. If you have Amazon Kindle, the book is available to download for free to your Kindle or you can purchase the paperback version. I highly recommend you do one of these because just these 7 recipes are incredible and there are 143 MORE in this book, including a history on the author, his ties to his family, and their relationship with food and recipes passed down generations.
Stone Ground Maize Meal Porridge
I love grits and I chose this one because it was unique in that it wasn't the huevos rancheros or chilaquiles we are used to seeing. This came together super quick and now that I have a full bag of yellow corn grits, I guess I have to make this again! 😋 Seriously, it was incredible. So full of flavor - smokey, a hint of spice, and just incredible. I paired it with the Cashew Crema Mexicana (recipe also from the cookbook), diced jalapenos, cilantro, and lime wedges.
My only gripe is that this says 4 servings and if you're eating this on it's own, it's 2 servings, at best. I suggest pairing it with something else, if you want to make it stretch, or doubling the recipe, if you want 4 true servings! What you see pictured is actually all "4" servings in one bowl.
Mexican Lentil Soup
I shortcutted this recipe and threw everything in the Instant Pot, I'm not gonna lie. If there's a recipe that can be done in the Instant Pot, I will absolutely throw it all in there. I was heading out for a bit, so I put it on Pressure Cook mode and set it for 4 minutes. I might've done 5 or 6, if I was trying to eat it right away, but I let it naturally release and sit on Keep Warm for about an hour before I was able to get to it. I also didn't add in the diced tomatoes until the end because of my fear for the dreaded "BURN" warning and how it always shows up when I try to add diced tomatoes.
This was a soup for THE SOUL, no joke. WOW, so good. I prepped this a couple days before and it kept really well. I'm psyched I double the recipe. 😆 I chose this one because we tend to love lentil soups in this household and I constantly have gallon jars filled with black, green, and red lentils. This recipe doesn't specify what kind of lentils to use, but I used green. I topped this with some more Cashew Crema Mexicana and some cilantro microgreens that I definitely bought specifically for these pictures.
featuring Almond Queso Cotija and Cashew Crema Mexicana
I had braces for about 2.5 years and had them taken off last year. I forgot how much I LOVE corn on the cob until the first summer of my braces. Never again will I forget, though! Especially elotes. In my opinion, this is THE BEST way to eat corn on the cob. I will always order it if it's on the menu, especially since you don't see it often vegan.
This was probably the recipe I was most excited about even though it's honestly the simplest. I made the Almond Queso Cotija and the Cashew Crema Mexicana ahead of time (and doubled the recipe because I just assumed they were going to be great and I was going to use them on everything. I was very right. Both those recipes blew my mind. I highly suggest making both a few hours before or even a day or two before. The Cotija is very tart and strong right after, but it mellows and becomes fantastic after having time for the flavors to do their thing. The Crema will thicken up and again, the flavor really comes together when given time!
Grilled Chimichurri Tofu Steaks and Cilantro Lime Rice
First off, the chimichurri needs to be on everything. I don't want food unless it's grilled and topped with chimichurri sauce now. 😂 The chimichurri needs an hour or so to come together in the fridge, so make this first before you cut up your veggies and tofu.
You can see in the pic that I cut the tofu into 6 pieces even though the recipe says to do 4. I already committed to 6 by the time I realized I could've just turned the block the other way and cut. I feel like this recipe might've needed more time to marinate, for the tofu's sake. I think if I make this again, I'll either cut into blocks and skewer the tofu, peppers, and onions or make it with seitan instead. Don't get me wrong, everything was good, but I felt like it could've been great and it wasn't the grill or the chimichurri marinade's fault, you know?
As for the rice, I doubled the amount rice, but did not double the sauce mixture. I realized this as I was pouring the sauce in. 🤦🏻♀️ I also ran out of cilantro here. I really should've just kept the recipe amount of rice! Why am I like this? 😂 Don't be like me! Make the correct quantities! That being said, this was still pretty amazing. Did I add diced avocado and chimichurri to make up for it? Absolutely did.
TLDR; You should buy this cookbook because Kris and I ate this food all day long and we will probably dream of this day for weeks to come before I decide I need to do all this again. Honestly, I highly recommend all these recipes! I truly cannot wait to make more out of this book. There's even desserts, which I skipped this time around simply because baking is not my favorite. Looking back, though, I should've make Horchata, at least!