It’s true, Cinco de Mayo does not fall on a Monday this year. But if your May 4th Meatless Monday leaves you so inspired that you want to continue it into Tuesday, we have several delicious suggestions for meatless Mexican dishes.
Cinco de Mayo is also known as the Anniversary of the Battle of Puebla. For those who like their Meatless Mondays with a side of history, here’s the backstory: on May 5, 1862, the outmanned Mexican army defeated the French in the Battle of Puebla. Though the French would capture Mexico City one year later and take control of the country for several years, the Battle of Puebla, and the Cinco de Mayo celebrations that began cropping up almost immediately in Puebla and in American towns, became a celebration of Mexican unity and patriotism.
A good argument can be made that Cinco de Mayo is essentially an American holiday that honors Mexican culture and heritage. From the time of our own Civil War and until the 1980s, Cinco de Mayo was a relatively low key celebration marked primarily in cities with large Mexican-American populations, such as Los Angeles, Houston and Chicago. But in recent decades–especially as food and beverage marketers have increased their Cinco de Mayo budgets–the day has grown exponentially in popularity, including weekend long celebrations in cities such as Denver and Phoenix. Here at Meatless Monday, we mark the day by embracing and sharing Mexico’s rich culinary traditions.
If you think about it, Mexico has been meatless for centuries. The foundation of native Mesoamerican food dating back thousands of years includes corn, beans and a range of chili peppers. These ancient–and meatless–items remain Mexican staples. Corn, for millenia, has remained the basic starch of Mexico. The strong, essential flavors of chili peppers define all Mexican cooking, and can take a epicurean up and down the Scoville scale. With generous helpings of indigenous beans, vegetables and flavors such as tomatoes, squash, avocados, cocoa and vanilla, plus regional foods like bananas, guava, mangoes, pears and pineapple, and you have all the ingredients for a colorful Mexican meal.
Below are six mouthwatering meatless recipes that can be part of your Cinco de Mayo celebration. Corn & Black Bean Burritos; 2 ways to make Tostadas with vegetables; a Huevos Rancheros recipe that’s a spin on the classic Mexican breakfast; a green salad with fruits and sunflower seeds; and Chimichurri Quinoa Stuffed Artichokes.
Main Photo: Rick Wood/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/MCT/Landov