When you are planning a plant-based meal, feel free to use your creativity. You want to have a mix of grains, vegetables, and protein, but you can also mix cultures to come up with something unique and interesting. Grain products that are often associated with a certain region are usually great with foods from any region. For instance, traditionally Mexican tortillas taste great filled with Indian dal. South American quinoa is delicious with Mediterranean flavorings.
One of my favorite “cross cultural” meals is Fiesta Pasta: Mexican flavors tossed with Italian pasta. Here’s a look at how I made it most recently, but look at this recipe as a jumping off point for your own creativity. It’s usually a little different depending on what ingredients I have on hand.
– 8 oz whole wheat or gluten-free pasta (such as spirals or bow tie shaped)
– 1 Tablespoon of oil, such as canola or olive
– 1 medium yellow onion, chopped or sliced
– 1 medium bell pepper (any color), chopped or sliced
– 1 jalapeno or other hot pepper, finely diced
– 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
– 3 – 4 cups of chopped tomatoes, or 1 28 oz can of chopped tomatoes
– 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
– 1 14.5 oz can of black beans, rinsed and drained
– 1/2 cup of chopped fresh cilantro
1. Boil a large pot of water, and cook the pasta according to the package directions.
2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a wok or saucepan. Cook the onion and peppers over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until softened.
3. Add the garlic, tomatoes, and cumin. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and cook over low for at least 10 minutes.
4. Add the black beans and cilantro for the last few minutes. When the sauce is complete, add the cooked pasta to the pan. Mix, coating all pasta in the sauce.
Possible Fiesta Pasta Additions:
Add any of these remaining ingredients when adding cilantro and black beans:
– Corn, fresh or frozen
– Sliced black olives
– Green onions
– Tapatio (hot sauce), about 1/2 teaspoon
You could also used canned chiles in place of the jalapeno, or pinto beans in place of the black beans.
What is your favorite cross-cultural meal creation?