Written by Nik Jameson
Food in the Yucatan is dictated by generations of molcajetes salsas and layers of cultural influences. You can see the pan francés and layered butter dough-like pastry called holhadra brought by the French. There is the obviously, ubiquitous queso de bola that originates from Holland. Look a little closer and pastor, hummus, tabbouleh and tacos arabe from the Lebanese immigration show up in cookbooks detailing the Yucatan. Oregano, rosemary and other herbs brought by the Spanish and Mediterranean have also trickled into the local cuisine. At the same time, the tropics wouldn’t feel the same without the numeral choices of fruit. Many are natives to this region, but many more came from Asia and integrated themselves easily into the local ice creams and other treats making what we eat here in the Yucatan very local, but at the same time quite global.
However, there are some things like corn, poblanos, axiote, and even the local pumpkins that have grown year after year from ancient ancestors, through the colonial years, and continues now throughout modern Yucatan kitchens. It’s fun to page through some Yucatecan cookbooks and see the influences reflected in the food, but it’s also beautiful to see how many soups and salsa also appear unchanged throughout the years of trade.
This recipe is from a Yucatecan base, but you can see the years of influence throughout it.
Stuffed squash make a great in the moment, or make-ahead dish. When I know I’ll have company, I like to do all the prep work and stuffing the day before and reheat them in the oven when the guests are due to arrive. The Yucatecan kitchen isn’t known for using the oven as it’s too hot (especially in Merida) to heat up the house. The good news is this dish doesn’t require the oven and day of everything can be done on the stovetop.
The squash themselves, when cooked correctly, should have a smooth buttery taste and texture. The original recipe is with ground beef, but I make my version vegan using this homemade veggie ground crumble recipe. →https://nikofthyme.com/vegetable-crumble/
4-6 local pumpkins
½ kg ground meat of choice (I use veggie meat)
1 chili jalapeno
2 garlic cloves
50 g of capers
50 g raisins
1 t oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
Wash the pumpkins and remove the stem by breaking it (do not cut into the pumpkins yet)
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.
Add the pumpkins to the boiling water and allow to cook for 15-20 minutes until a knife enters the top easily.
Meanwhile: make the filling
Dice the onion and add it to a large skillet of hot oil, saute the onion with minced garlic until fragrant.
Add the carrot and jalapeno and saute for 2-3 minutes.
Add the meat and oregano and continue to move all the ingredients. Salt and pepper to taste.
When the meat is cooked add the capers, raisins, and 2 chopped tomatoes.
Cook, mixing until the tomatoes are losing their juice and all the ingredients are well combined.Check the salt and pepper as needed.
When ready, remove the pumpkins from the boiling water and allow to cool until easily handled.
Make a square cut into the top of each pumpkin, around the base of the stem.
Remove the top and scoop out the seeds inside of the pumpkin, without breaking the bottoms.
Place the seeds in a bowl and use in later recipes.
Lineup the pumpkins in a pan so they do not move around. When all the pumpkins are ready, stuff with filling. You can now cover them in tomato sauce and serve or store them overnight to reheat the next day.
Simple Tomato Sauce
4-5 roma tomatoes
2 garlic cloves
1 habanero (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat all the ingredients (except the salt and pepper) on a hot skillet until charred on the outside.
Pulse in blender to desired consistency, use over pumpkins, tacos, etc.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
From Blue Deer vegan producs https://www.facebook.com/bluedeerfood/
and Districto Vegano restaurant https://www.facebook.com/Distritoveganomx/