Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month With These 25 Recipes

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During Hispanic Heritage Month, TODAY shares community history, pain, joy and pride. We shine a light on Hispanic pioneers and rising voices. TODAY will be posting personal essays, stories, videos and specials throughout September and October. Find out more here.

National Hispanic Heritage Month kicks off Wednesday and TODAY Food kicks it off with some of our favorite recipes from Latino and Hispanic chefs.

September 15 to October 15 has been designated by the US government to honor the countless contributions, achievements, arts, culture and food of Hispanics and Latin Americans. Whether you are celebrating your own legacy or that of friends, these tasty recipes for everything from ropa vieja and birria to tembleque and flan, will wow everyone at your table.

Starters and side dishes

Daniel Alvarez / St. Regis Punta Mita, Mexico

This TODAY favorite guacamole is topped with fresh green cilantro, white cotija cheese and bright red pico de gallo, which executive chef Gabriel Kolofon said he did to represent his country’s flag.

“The colors presented in the Mexican flag have a great meaning,” he says. “The color green signifies hope and prosperity, the white signifies peace and the red signifies the blood of Mexican heroes.”

Roasted tomato and green apple salsa

Getty Images

This salsa verde has a surprising and subtly sweet addition of Granny Smith apples. It has an applesauce-like consistency which is great for entertaining as it can sit for a while without pulling apart. Serve it with tortilla chips or smother it over enchiladas.

Summer salad of watermelon and tomatillos

PatiJinich.com

Mexican chef Pati Jinich combines texture with all the right flavors in this refreshing salad. Perfect to enjoy on a warm day or at the dawn of late summer, she swears by this combo of sweet watermelon, spicy tomatillos, creamy cheese and citrus vinaigrette.

Grilled Corn (Maiz Rustido)

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

Maíz rustido is the Spanish version of Mexican street corn. Like its Mexican counterpart, this sweet corn is charred and served with salty cheese, smoked spices and zesty citrus.

Cuban nachos

Courtesy of Rosana Rivera

Anyone who likes a good Cuban sandwich with Swiss cheese, salami, ham, cheese and Dijon will love these nachos. It’s the ultimate in finger food with all those classic Cuban flavors.

Little Gem Salad with Warm Garlic Dressing

TODAY

This simple salad is inspired by tapas bars and asadores (grill restaurants) in and around Cordoba, Spain. It highlights a small, soft and tender lettuce, embellished with warm garlic olive oil, sherry vinegar, anchovies and a pinch of smoked paprika.

Mofongo stuffing

Alejandra ramos

Mofongo – a Puerto Rican recipe for fried green plantains mashed with garlic, pork, and seasonings – could easily claim the title of the island’s national dish. Mofongo is enjoyed all year round as a side with everything from sautéed shrimp to grilled steak and, as in Alejandra Ramos’ recipe, with a few ingredients added to make it the perfect turkey side dish at Thanksgiving.

Entrances

Birria de Res

Road views

A staple of Mexican tradition, birria requires a lot of elbow grease. The meat is slowly cooked until tender in a chili-based stew and served in tacos with the consommé, or broth, except for the dipping sauce. This recipe from sisters Stéphanie and Cloud Ramos contains a family secret that is not often found in other birria: carrots, which add a sweet flavor, and the absence of vinegar.

'Aquí Me Quedo' shrimp tacos

Juan Pablo Loza’s Smoked and Shiny Shrimp Tacos only take 25 minutes to prepare and, more importantly, reflect the chef’s mission to raise awareness about the massive overfishing of endemic species to the region of the Mexican food scene.

Skirt steak tacos with refried beans and Mexican rice

Stephanie & Cloud Ramos

The marinade on this easy dish has all the flavors, whether the steak sits for an hour or overnight. It’s made with accessible, everyday ingredients that will make these mouthwatering tacos (which offer a plant-based swap option) a must-have recipe.

Mexican steak in a pan and potato stew with guajillo sauce

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

Need an all-in-one meal that will warm your body, soul and spirit? This peppery stew is filled with potatoes, garlic and tender flank steak. Anyone who likes a beef stew will definitely do it more than once in the cold season.

Aarón Sánchez's Pan-Seared Salmon with Pumpkin Seed Mole

Aaron Sanchez

It is rare to see seafood or fish in mole dishes. But the trick here is type mole plus salmon, due to its richness and fat content, can hold up well to a strong hazelnut sauce.

Alejandra Ramos Choripan Sandwich with Chimichurri

Alejandra ramos

Choripan is a street food sandwich that originated in Argentina, but also popular in other Latin American countries. The recipe is basically in the name, which is a playful coat rack of the words “chorizo” and “pan” (in Spanish for “bread”). Alejandra Ramos spices up her version with crunchy red onions and spicy chimichurri.

Classic Tampa Cuban Sandwich

Courtesy of Felicia LaCalle

Filled with the flavors of Cuba, tangy pickles, salt pork, salted ham and processed cheese come together in a deliciously toasted sandwich that’s wonderful to make for lunch or dinner.

Paella with vegetables

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

Chef José Andrés shares his secrets to mastering the art of the perfect homemade paella. It’s not always easy to “refine the fire and the rice,” he says, “but once you have it, there’s no better way to feed a group of friends and family Valencians believe paella is not just a meal, it’s a reason to get together with your loved ones. Learn how to make paella, and it will be part of your life.

Natalie Morales Bahian Cod Fillet with Coconut Milk, Peppers and Onions

Alanna Hale / At Home With Natalie: Simple Recipes For Healthy Living, From My Family’s Kitchen To Yours

Recalling childhood memories in Brazil, Natalie Morales shares one of her favorite cod recipes that are packed with nourishing flavors like turmeric, tomato and coconut milk. To prepare it is also easy. The 30-minute meal pairs wonderfully whether you’re entertaining or need a last-minute meal on weekdays.

Chicharrón chicken with smothered onions

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

There’s the fried chicken, and then there’s the chicharrón chicken. What is the difference? A good chicharrón chicken has extremely crispy skin and is first rubbed with lime. After frying, it is brushed with garlic vinegar for a nice touch of acidity.

Eggplant Stuffed with Beef

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

Tender baked eggplants are filled with a savory picadillo-style beef filling seasoned with Latin American flavors. Serve topped with crumbled queso fresco and fresh cilantro, accompanied by Colombian-style coconut rice.

Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja by Natalie Morales

HJO / At Home With Natalie: Simple Recipes For Healthy Living, From My Family’s Kitchen To Yours

Use a slow cooker to whip up this handy version of an incredibly satisfying dish. Ropa vieja is an explosion of flavors that warms up from the inside out. Slowly cooked grated steak in beer, hot spices and brackish olives is a dish everyone loves.

Candies

Pumpkin cheesecake (calabaza en tacha)

Samantha Okazaki / TODAY

Marcela Valladolid’s succulent pumpkin cheesecake topped with pumpkin brown sugar chips is the perfect fall dessert that’s not too sweet. But honestly, it hits the spot all year round.

Puerto Rican Tembleque (coconut pudding)

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

Tembleque is a five-ingredient Puerto Rican recipe for a jiggly coconut milk pudding similar in texture to panna cotta or Jell-O. It was Alejandra Ramos’ favorite dessert growing up and her tribute is simple but exceptional.

Natalie's Pumpkin Flan

Annabelle Breakey / Getty Images

Creamy, light, and no-fuss, the custard is the perfect way to end a feast. Morales gets right to the point with vanilla and condensed milk, but gives it an extra fall touch with a mix of pumpkin pie, cinnamon and nutmeg. Each bite gives a feeling of freshness on the way down with a warm touch.

Mango Upside Down Cake

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

Soft, chewy and delicate, this upturned cake with a tropical twist is perfect with a nice cup of tea or a cappuccino after a delicious meal (or any time of day, really).

Chocolate chipotle brownies

Samantha Okazaki / TODAY

Enhance plain chocolate brownies with a hint of hot, smoky chipotle powder and a pinch of cinnamon. It’s like Mexican hot chocolate that you can slice with a fork.

Coconut Choco Pan

Bryan ford

The soft sourdough is softened by grated coconut kernels, a little brown sugar and melting chocolate chips. Detached after dinner or enjoyed for breakfast the next day with steaming coffee, this is a home-made treat that’s hard to beat.


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