People's Guide Homepage Copper CanyonLive & RetireCarl's NotebooksLettersFavorite Books Visit our SponsorsTable of ContentsThe Best of Mexico: Favorite Places


Vegetarian Fusion Cooking

by Amber Zavada

The following recipes are excerpted from the Mama Sol: Vegetarian Fusion Cooking, by Amber Zavada.

Enchiladas Suizas

Creamy green chile and cheese sauce envelopes these delicious enchiladas stuffed with spinach, tofu and Monterey Jack and cheddar cheeses. Despite the somewhat unusual ingredients, these enchiladas taste incredibly similar to traditional chicken filled Enchiladas Suizas.

Prepare the filling by sautéing in a large skillet:

  • 1 pkg. tofu, frozen, thawed, and squeezed (regular squeezed tofu will work, but the frozen tofu has a more “meaty” texture)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 20 peppercorns, coarsely ground
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. butter or oil
  • 2 Tbsp. tamari
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin

Sauté until tofu is golden brown. At the last minute, add:

  • 1 lb. fresh spinach, cleaned and chopped

Cook until spinach wilts, remove bay leaf, then set aside until needed.

Have ready:

  • 1 cup oil * see note below for lower fat cooking method
  • 18 corn tortillas
  • 1 cup grated cheddar
  • 1 cup grated Monterey Jack

Prepare tortillas by frying one at a time in about one inch of oil, until tortillas are soft and flexible

(*for a lower fat alternative that tastes just as good, the tortillas can be lightly rubbed with oil on each side and tossed in a hot skillet for a few seconds until softened).

Place 1/18 of the tofu filling on each tortilla, top with 1/18 of the grated cheese. Roll each tortilla up tightly and place seam side down in a large baking pan (9x20).

Prepare the cream sauce by stirring together in a medium bowl:

  • 2 (4 oz.) cans chopped green chile with juice
  • 1 (13 oz.) can tomatillos, drained and chopped
    or 1 3/4 cups chopped canned tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups light cream
  • 2 eggs

Pour this mixture over the tortillas, top with 1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese and bake at 350°F until cheese is golden and bubbly (about 20 minutes). Serve with guacamole, a dollop of sour cream, freshly grated lettuce or cabbage and a garnish of paper thin radish slices. Serves 4-6.

Amber’s Black Bean Soup

A delicious Cuban inspired Black Bean Soup garnished with chopped onion, cilantro, and a dollop of sour cream.

Sort and rinse well:

  • 8 oz. bag of dried black beans

(Soak beans overnight if desired to speed cooking time)

Add beans to large soup pot with:

  • 6 cups water
  • 1 whole green pepper, seeds and all
  • 1 large onion, peeled and quartered
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 2 tsp. red chile powder or
  • 1-2 whole chipotle peppers (dried, smoked jalapeños) or
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

Cook several hours, until green pepper has completely dissolved. Mash some of the beans to improve texture, adding more water if necessary.

  • Add salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle into bowls and garnish with:

  • Finely minced fresh onion
  • Chopped fresh cilantro, paprika
  • Sour cream or yogurt, grated cheddar or Monterey Jack

Serve with tortilla chips or buttered French bread and a salad. Serves 8.

Sopa de Ajo (Garlic Soup)

A cheese covered crouton floats in the middle of this delicious vegetable broth rich with garlic and herbs.

Prepare a broth of:

  • 2 medium tomatoes, blanched in boiling water for 5 minutes, and peeled and chopped
  • 4 cups rich vegetable broth
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tsp. oregano


  • 4 thick slices French bread with:
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced

Fry bread slices in 3 Tbsp. olive oil or butter until golden. About 2 minutes before bread is toasted, cover each slice with:

  • 1/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese

Once the cheese is melted, place each bread slice in the bottom of a shallow soup bowl.. Add 1 cup hot broth to each bowl, and serve immediately.

Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro leaves. Serves 4.

Frijoles de la Olla

Deceptively simple, these Mexican pot beans are flavorful but not too spicy, with a wonderful creamy texture. They’re perfect as a base for refried beans, or just served straight from the pot with a little grated cheese and chopped fresh cilantro.

In a large pot bring to a boil:

  • 2 1/2 cups dried pinto beans, sorted to remove rocks, and rinsed well
  • 6-7 cups water

When the water has begun to boil, place beans and water in a large crock pot. (The crock pot is optional, but it is easier because you can leave the beans unattended while cooking.)
Add to the crock pot along with the beans and water:

  • 1 (3”) piece of kombu sea vegetable (adds flavor and aids bean digestion)
  • 1 dried chipotle chile pepper, seeds and stem removed

Cook for about 3 hours, until beans are very tender. Serve hot, with plenty of the bean broth.

Garnish with chopped onion and cilantro. Serves 6-8.


Delicate vanilla scented custard baked in a smooth caramel sauce -- the perfect way to calm your taste buds after a spicy meal.

In a saucepan, heat until just below simmering point:

  • 3 cups milk

In a blender, blend until creamy:

  • 3 whole eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Slowly pour in the hot milk while still blending. Set aside.
In another heavy saucepan, slowly heat:

  • 1/2 cup sugar

Stir occasionally until the sugar becomes a smooth light brown syrup.

Coat the bottom of a 10” baking dish with the syrup, working very quickly because the syrup hardens almost immediately. Pour the custard mixture into the baking dish. Place the dish in the center of a large baking pan. Then pour very hot water in between the baking dish and the pan, until the water is half way up the outside of the the custard filled dish.

Bake for 50-55 minutes at 325°F, until custard is set. Remove dish from pan to cool, and unmold by running a knife around the edge and overturning into a large rimmed plate or a shallow bowl. Serve well chilled. Makes 8 servings.

Amber is an artist and graphic designer. Check out her website: http://
©1972-2000 by Carl Franz & Lorena Havens
Copper Canyon Live & Retire Table of ContentsBook Reviews Letters