In the Hispanic culture food is a gathering point. It’s not just about filling your belly with good eats, but it’s also a chance to connect with friends and family from near and far. It tells the story of generations past and keeps their memories and family traditions alive.
In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, we are sharing four recipes from four different Hispanic countries. By making these dishes with your child you can help them experience new cultures and make new memories of your own.
As the song on Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood says, “We’ve got to try new food, ‘cause it might taste good.” We know kids can be selective eaters. Involving them in the cooking process is one way to help them branch out and try something different than their normal fare.
El Desayuno (Breakfast)
Ecuador – Bolón de verde (Ecuadorian Green Plantain Dumplings)
Ecuador’s most famous food comes from its coastal regions. Bolón de verde is a mashed green plantain dumpling usually enjoyed at breakfast. Frequently the bolón de verde is filled with cheese or pork and served on the side of eggs.
Ingredients: 4 green plantains (peeled and cut in medium size chunks), butter (4-5 tbsp), canola oil (2 tbsp), hot pepper or chili powder (1 tbsp), cumin (1 tsp), grated cheese (1 cup) or cooked chorizo or bacon, salt to taste.
- Melt the butter over medium heat.
- Add the plantain and cook for 40 minutes until they are very soft, turning them every 10 minutes.
- Sprinkle the cooked plantains with the chili powder, cumin and salt
- Transfer seasoned plaintains to a bowl (do this while they are still hot) and mash them, using a potato masher, until you create a chunky dough consistency.
- Form balls slighter smaller than a tennis ball with the dough
- Make a hole in the middle of each ball and fill it with cheese, chorizo, or bacon. Then cover the hole and reshape it into a ball
- Heat the oil over high heat and add the stuffed plantain dumplings; fry until they are golden and crispy on each side.
- Transfer to a plate with paper towels to drain the grease and serve immediately.
El Almuerzo (Lunch)
Honduras – Baleada (A Variation of the Soft Taco)
Honduras is at a crossroads of cultures.. It is influenced by several different regional groups, including people from Mesoamerica, Spain, Africa and the Caribbean. Their cultures combine to make some of the most interesting and diverse eating you can do in Central America. Typically filled with fried red beans, and crumbled cheese inside, the Baleada is a favorite of many Hondurans and is easy to make at home.
Ingredients: flour tortillas (preferably homemade), refried beans (Honduran red beans or refried black beans), cheese (Cotija cheese is best, feta cheese is similar, and queso duro is another option), sour cream.
- Lay tortilla flat and spread half with refried beans
- Sprinkle with cheese
- Top with a few dollops of sour cream
- Fold over the tortilla and enjoy!
At its core, Baleadas are simply tortillas with beans, cheese and sour cream layered on top of each other. As with many street food meals, though, you can add nearly anything you can think of to make the meal more filling and to your taste. From scrambled eggs to fresh peppers to red onions to beef to chorizo to hot sauce, put your food imagination to work and see what you come up with.
La Cena (Dinner)
Cuba – Mojo Criollo (Marinade Recipe)
Mojo Criollo is a staple of Cuban diets. It t can be used on all types of meat, especially pork, which is the most widely consumed meat product on the island. Brought to Cuba by Spanish settlers, this marinade includes sour oranges (check the link below for tips and substitutions), garlic, spices, and olive oil. There are many variations to this marinade, but, the traditional version, which is citrusy, garlicky, and tangy rather than spicy, is sometimes more palatable for children who may not be comfortable with spicier foods.
Ingredients: 10 cloves of garlic, sour orange juice (2 cups), minced white onion (1/4 cup), cumin (1 tsp), oregano (1 tsp), salt (2 tsp), black pepper (1 tsp) and extra virgin olive oil (1/3 cup).
- Make a garlic paste with the cloves and salt by mashing them together in a mortar and pestle.
- Add the garlic paste and remaining ingredients to a jar..
- Close the jar tightly and shake it until well combined. This can be a fun task for kids!
- Use the sauce for marinating pork, steak, chicken, seafood, or turkey.
El Postre (Dessert)
Colombia – Cholado
This popular summer dessert from Columbia is both sweet and healthy, which makes it a great treat for the entire family. And while this is best consumed on a hot summer day, it can be enjoyed no matter the season. We recommend spending time together picking out your favorite seasonal fruits to make this tasty treat.
Ingredients: ice, diced strawberries (1 cup), sliced banana (1 cup), diced fresh pineapple (1 cup), diced mango (1 cup), sweet condensed milk to taste, shredded coconut (1 cup), maraschino cherries for garnish. Syrup: passion fruit (2 cups), water (1/2 cup), sugar (3/4 cup) OR Colombian blackberry (2 cups), water (1/2 cup), sugar (3/4 cup)
- Dice all fruit to bite size and refrigerate.
- To make the syrups: Combine water, fruit pulp and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to boil over medium high heat. Continue to cook until sugar is dissolved, and a thick mixture remains.
- Let the syrup cool in the fridge before using.
- Crush the ice in a blender or food processor.
- Set plastic cups or glasses on a counter, add ½ cup of crushed ice.
- Drizzle passion fruit or berry syrup over the ice; add some condensed milk on top.
- Pile fruit on top of each cup. Drizzle more condensed milk on top and garnish with coconut or a cherry.
If you want to mix things up, you can try out any fruit you like in your Cholado!
Spending time together around the table is a wonderful way to bond and learn with your kids. If you are looking for more ways to celebrate and learn about Hispanic Heritage month, check out our other blogs: