I love all vegetables, and we eat them all the time. As I have said many times, I eat vegetables with my vegetables, and more so than not, I serve multiple vegetables at a time. I guess my love for vegetables comes from growing up in Southern California, where fresh vegetables are in abundance all year round. There is also a very large Hispanic population, and therefore a large influence on life in Southern California in general, which also probably plays a large role in my love of vegetables and good Mexican food. A good friend of mine had told me, not so long ago, that I “was more Mexican than American”. I was also told, many years ago by one of my chefs who used to work under me, that “mi corazon esta Mexicana, no esta Americana”. Although, biologically I do not have any Latina blood in me, this is probably true, to a certain extent.
Traditional Mexican cuisines are a fusion of Mesoamerican and Spanish foods that have been blended together over time to give them their own unique personalities. The diet of the Aztecs consisted of mostly chilies, beans, tomatoes, herbs, vanilla, avocado. papaya, pineapple, achiote or annatto, squash, sweet potatoes, turkey and fish. I love all of these foods, and we eat them all quite often. When the Spanish came to the New World, they introduced olive oil, almonds, beef, chicken and pork, which we eat a lot of as well. What is popularly known as Mexican food here in the United States, is actually more of a Tex-Mex type of food, and is completely different than what is traditionally served in Mexico. Authentic Mexican food is all about the freshness of the ingredients, so a lot of fresh vegetables and fruits, mixed with a variety of herbs and spices, as well as many variations of queso blanco or white cheeses, are things most commonly found in and used when preparing Mexican dishes. The yellow cheeses we see used in Mexican foods here in the United States, are from the American influences, and are not traditionally used in Mexico.
Garlic and onions are two of the most popular ingredients and flavors used in Mexican cooking. Most savory Mexican recipes use at least one of these ingredients, if not both, as do I, in almost every recipe. Traditional Mexican cooking also uses a wide variety of herbs and spices as well. The most popular herbs used in Mexican cooking are Mexican oregano (not the Greek oregano), basil, cilantro, mint, sage, and thyme. Spices that are mostly used in Mexican cooking are cumin, coriander, allspice, cacao powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, achiote or annato seeds, and epazote. Epazote is used mostly when cooking beans, and is used to help correct digestional problems that often come about when eating too many beans. But it has to be used sparingly because eating too much can also be toxic.
I have all the basics of Mexican cooking right here. I have a variety of peppers, squash, tomatoes, garlic, onions, sage, thyme, oregano, cilantro, cumin, and red pepper flakes. I also used my queso blanco and some pinons or pine nuts.
Once everything was cut, I sauteed all the vegetables and spices together until they were soft and tender. I added the fresh herbs right at the end so they would not loose their flavors.
After everything was cooked and the herbs were added, I transferred it all to a baking dish coated with cooking spray, then topped it with mozzarella cheese (you can use any cheese you like) and pine nuts. I baked it uncovered at 375* F for about 30 minutes, or until the cheese was all melted and a little crusty and the pine nuts were toasted.
Esta mui fresca, mui delicioso y saludable. !Desfruitas!