Huazontle (latin Chenopodium nuttalliae), pronounced “wan-ZONE-tlay,” is a tall, wild vegetable native to Mexico. It is related to the common American weed goosefoot (Russian марь, which is often confused with лебеда).
From wiki: “The plant Chenopodium nuttalliae is closely related to Chenopodium quinoa from the Andes (known as quinoa), but the seeds do not contain saponins as quinoa seed does. With huauzontle, the immature seed head or inflorescence is eaten, and the mature seeds are harvested for food in parts of Mexico and ground into flour to make tortillas. Prior to the development of maize (corn) by Native Americans in Central and North America, this plant was one of the major “grain” crops.”
Think broccoli with thinner and more fibrous stalks and stems. That’s huazontle, just with more tiny green buds and fewer stems and leaves. Huazontle bud clusters are simmered in salty water for 5-15 minutes (different sources give different timing) first. Then they are cooked as tortas (patties), which are formed by pressing huazontle clusters around a portion of queso fresco, dipped in flour then into an egg foam, and deep-fried. This recipe is sort of the same, but deconstructed.
Be careful to avoid bitter parts of this plant — leaves and buds that are almost ready to flower! Pick them all out before boiling or steaming the huauzontle.
Servings: 2 portions
- 2 cups huazontle bud clusters
- 3 tbsp wheat flour all-purpose
- 3 tbsp corn starch
- 1 tbsp red chili salsa thick, red, peered, to your taste
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 tbsp Oaxaca cheese or any other melting cheese, grated
Wash huazontle under running water to remove any dirt.
Pick clusters of green buds. Make sure no leaves are in a pile.
Fill a saute pan with water, bring to boiling over high heat, and add salt to dissolve. It should be sea-salty. Add all huazontle to the boiling water at once, bring to simmering, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain and squeeze any extra water from the greens.
Reserve one third of clusters boiled. Mix flour and starch in a bowl. Add the rest of boiled huazontle and shake to coat the clusters with flour and starch mixture.
Prepare everything for deep frying. Whip one egg white to soft peaks. Stir in one egg yolk. The mixture should be foamy. Fill a saute pan with frying oil (avocado or canola) 1" deep. Bring it to 325F temperature.
Deep-fry another half of dusted huazontle as is and the other half coated with the egg foam. Place fried huazontle on a paper towel to absorb extra oil.
Prepare the sauce. In a small pan, bring cream to simmering, stir in pureed salsa and cheese, combine. To serve, start with a portion of sauce on the bottom of a warm plate and arrange huazontle cooked three different ways on top.