Meatless Monday: Celebrate Cinco de Mayo the meat-free way
For some, Cinco de Mayo means raising a margarita. To me, it means lengthy but worthy waits for endless chips and salsa.
Mexican food is one of the most vegetarian-friendly foods you can come across. Most restaurants have vegetarian options available, and offerings that have meat can be modified pretty easily.
- RELATED: King in the Kitchen with Mod Mex guacamole, Sept. 25, 2014
There’s no shortage of places to find good, authentic Mexican food in Elkhart County but if you want to avoid the crowds, it’s easy to throw your own fiesta at home.
Though vegans are going to have a trickier job finding dairy-free foods on Cinco de Mayo (most Mexican food has a lot of cheese), here’s a quick guide that should give you an idea of what’s available so you can spend less time looking at the menu and more time elbowing your friends away from the guacamole.
Vegetarians: Veggie fajita, cheese quesadilla, cheese nachos, tacos with beans and cheese, bean and cheese burrito, chile rellenos.
Vegans: Veggie fajita with no cheese, tacos with beans and veggies, bean burrito.
Even if you’re cutting some of the main ingredients, you can always ask for a double load of beans, guacamole or vegetables to substitute the cheese or meat that you’re leaving off.
Some refried beans are made with lard, which isn’t vegetarian or vegan friendly, so be sure to ask if the beans are vegetarian friendly when you’re eating out.
- RELATED: Cinco de Mayo 2014: 4 recipes to celebrate Mexican culture, May 5, 2015
Regretfully, I haven’t even made a dent in trying a fraction of the Mexican restaurants in our area but as a vegan, I’ve had great luck. Here’s a few of my favorites that I hope might help you with your orders, or give you some creative inspiration:
Hacienda: I switch between the veggie-style burrito bowl and the garlic and mushroom fajitas at Hacienda. The veggie bowl comes with sour cream and cheese, so I ask for guacamole instead of the sour cream and no cheese. The fajitas could easily feed a few people. A bed of mushrooms, onions, peppers and tomatoes are served in a sizzling skillet and you get warm tortillas, rice, beans (ask for no cheese) and other veggies to build a fajita.
La Esperanza: I always get crunchy tacos with beans and guacamole at La Esperanza. Usually I also eat so many chips and salsa that I’m well on my way to being full by the time my food comes out.
Chipotle: This doesn’t get points for being authentic, but it’s one of my favorite places. I can easily get two meals out of a bowl with rice, black beans, vegan sofritas (pepper-braised tofu) and tons of salsa and guacamole. And to the friendly person who builds the bowl, yes I know guac is extra and yes I will still always want it.
Making your own sofritas at home are easy. Try out this recipe we published for Sofritas Monday a while back and make tofu tacos with all of the toppings: beans, lettuce, salsa and guacamole. Less than five minutes to assemble and easy to make for a group — great party food.
I made this a few months ago with no recipe for a few reasons: I don’t want to pay $8 for prepackaged guacamole, I have a deeply-rooted fear and dislike of onions, which are almost always in guacamole and I’m one of those people who can never add enough cilantro to anything.
- 2 avocados, ripe (Ripe avocados should be soft, not squishy, and green when the stem is removed)
- 1 large lime, squeezed
- Cilantro, chopped and to taste
- Freshly ground sea salt, if desired (I normally don’t)
- Pit the avocado. First, take a sharp, non-serrated knife and cut longways around the avocado. Twist it open, take the knife and strike against the pit until it gets stuck. Gently pull the knife out of the avocado and the pit should stay attached to the knife. Scoop out the fruit with a large spoon and put in a bowl.
- Take the juice from one lime and add.
- Chop as much cilantro as you want and add. Mash together with a fork and mix well.
Happy Cinco de Mayo!