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Sunday, November 27, 2022

You won’t miss the meat or dairy in these recipes from Yucatán

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Maggie Cale
Maggie Cale
Maggie Cale was born in the United States and has lived most of her life in Pennsylvania. She has a social work degree from Penn State University and finished her career in Washington, D.C. working with families. She moved to Yucatán in 2017 and has worked part-time ghostwriting for bloggers. She lives in Itzimná with her two dogs.

Vegan, vegetarian and plant-based lifestyles are easy to enjoy, despite living in meat-centric Yucatán. 

Now that we’ve listed our favorite vegan and vegetarian restaurants, here is a look at some local recipes, followed by a few of my own. 

Traditional meals

Traditional rice with green sauce, vegetables and sunflower seeds. Photo: Shutterstock

Green Mexican Rice with Corn

Vegetarian; serves 2

  • ½ C cilantro
  • 1 C canned or frozen corn
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1-2 jalapeños, based on heat preference 
  • 2 C spinach
  • 2 C brown rice
  • ½  tsp salt
  • ¼ canola oil
  • 3 C water

Pulse the cilantro, spinach, garlic, and jalapeño in a blender to make a green paste. Brown the rice slightly in oil in a pot, then add water, salt, green paste, and corn. Boil for five minutes and stir well. Reduce heat and continue cooking, covered, for 15-20 minutes until rice is soft and fluffy. 

Flautas, filled with potatoes, are filling and delicious. Photo: Shutterstock

Crispy Potato Flautas

Vegan; serves 4

  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 1 C mashed potatoes 
  • ¼ C vegetable oil
  • 4 long skewers 

Lightly heat tortillas and fill with mashed potatoes. Roll and pierce about three onto a skewer. Heat vegetable oil in a large saucepan and fry the tortillas. 

Serve with guacamole, sliced radishes, cilantro, or hot sauce. 

Sopes, not to be confused with sopas (soups), are easily turned vegan in Yucatán. Photo: Shutterstock

Sopes with Black Beans and Cheese

Vegetarian; serves 4

  • 12 sopes 
  • 2 C cooked black beans
  • 2 C favorite local cheese 
  • 2 avocados

Warm sopes, (a type of tortillas, with its edges turned up to form a bowl, found at some mercados), in the oven while heating beans in a pot. Fill each sopes with beans and top with cheese. Return to the oven to melt the cheese well. Top with avocados and serve. 

Easy Mexican Corn Salad 

Vegan; serves 4

  • 5 ears corn
  • 1 tbsp of oil 
  • ½ C vegan mayo
  • 1 tbsp lime juice 
  • 1 tsp lime zest
  • ½ C chopped cilantro 
  • ½ tsp chili powder 
  • ½ tsp paprika 

Heat oil and roast corn in a pan. Char the corn lightly and, if using ears, cut off cob, then place in a bowl. Add chili powder, paprika, and mayo to the bowl and stir to coat the corn. Then drizzle lime juice over the corn and sprinkle with zest and cilantro. May be served warm or cold. 

Maggie’s favorites

Here are some of my favorites, and all the ingredients are easily found here in Yucatán: 

Vegan curry makes use of cauliflower. Photo: Maggie Cale

Cauliflower, Spinach, and Peanut Curry 

Vegetarian; serves 4

  • 1 head of cauliflower cut into medium pieces
  • 2 C fresh spinach
  • 1 small onion 
  • 1 thumb piece size of fresh ginger 
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped small
  • 1 medium carrot, grated 
  • 1 tsp coriander 
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 400 ml coconut milk
  • 500 ml vegetable stock 
  • 1 C peanuts 
  • 3 Tbsp. soy sauce 
  • 1 tsp paprika 
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric 
  • 3 Tbsp. oil 

Place cauliflower in a large bowl and add 1 Tbsp oil, coriander, paprika, cumin, and turmeric. Stir to coat cauliflower and then bake on a sheet pan at 350 for 20 minutes or until turning slightly brown. Meanwhile, prepare the onion, ginger, jalapeño, carrots, and garlic, and saute in a pan with remaining oil until fragrant and the onion is translucent. Remove cauliflower from the oven and let it cool. In a blender, place peanuts and soy sauce and grind the mixture. Add items from the saucepan and blend again. Add coconut milk, vegetable stock, and sugar and blend for a final time. Pour the mixture back into the used saucepan and add cauliflower. Allow the sauce to heat, and when it is finally bubbling, turn down the heat and add fresh spinach. The dish is ready when the spinach has wilted. Enjoy as-is or over rice. 

Lemon Broccoli Lentils

Vegan, vegetarian; serves 2

  • 1 medium bunch of broccoli, cut into pieces 
  • ½ C black or green lentils 
  • 4 C arugula or spinach 
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tsp. dijon mustard 
  • 1 tsp. honey 
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice 
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or oil of choice 
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
  • 2 C of water 
  • ¾ C favorite vegan cheese

Boil 2 C of water and pour ½ C lentils into boiling water. Cook for 20 minutes or until tender. Prepare broccoli to bake, with a small amount of oil drizzled on broccoli, then salt and pepper. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes until the edges appear to be crispy. In a large bowl place washed and drained greens. When broccoli has cooled, place on top of greens and add cooked and drained lentils. Make dressing by placing remaining oil, diced garlic, Dijon mustard, honey, lemon juice, pinch of pepper flakes and salt and pepper in a bowl or shaker and mix well. When ready to serve add cheese and pour dressing over the whole dish.  

Roasted cauliflower salad. Photo: Shutterstock

Roasted Cauliflower Date Salad

From Every Last Bite, which specializes in grain-free recipes

Vegan, Paleo; serves 4

  • 1 medium cauliflower, cut up
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp oregano

Place in a large bowl or zip lock bag and mix to coat cauliflower well. Bake uncovered at 350F for 20 minutes.


  • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • Salt and pepper to taste 

Salad prep

  • ½ C finely chopped dates 
  • ½ C red onion chopped into thin slices 
  • ½ C chopped parsley
  • ¼ C toasted sesame seeds 

Mix cooled baked cauliflower and salad items in a bowl. When ready to serve, drizzle vinaigrette over the top. 

Pack some spinach pesto salad to go. Photo: Maggie Cale

Spinach Pesto Salad 

From Smart in the Kitchen, which develops recipes for “busy home cooks.”

Vegetarian; serves 4

For the pesto

  • ¼ C almonds, walnuts, or pine nuts
  • 3 C spinach or basil 
  • 1 large garlic clove sliced 
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice 
  • ½ C extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ C parmesan cheese or vegan cheese of choice 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 

Blend in a food processor or blender until paste consistency. 

In a large bowl, add:

  • 3 C of washed and drained spinach
  • 2 C  of defrosted frozen peas or a can of drained peas
  • Stir in ⅔ C of pesto

When you are ready to serve, squeeze a fresh lemon over the top and either Parmesan or vegan cheese.

I top this salad with pine nuts or sliced almonds for an extra crunch. 

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