Vegan cuisine varies from region to region, just like “regular” cuisine. Each country or region has something else to offer in the way of vegan specialties. Of course, most vegans eat foods from different places. That being said, here in the western U.S., there are certain foods vegans rely on to create those southwestern vegan dishes that make up a good portion of our diet.
Sorry, Florida. California Haas avocados really do have the best flavor. Maybe that’s why they play such a vital role in the southwestern vegan diet. We use them as healthy garnishes at just about any meal. They’re great with any Mexican food, traditional or Americanized. Plus, they make a lovely, creamy sauce for pasta that makes cheese take a back seat.
I’m not sure what I would do if I had to rely on boring old white potatoes for nutrition. Sweet potatoes are so much more nutritious and delicious besides. Plus, they brighten up southwestern dishes with that pretty Terracotta like color. No wonder vegans love adding them to favorites like bean and rice tacos. They really give us a beautiful and nutrient dense boost that white potatoes simply can’t compete with.
Corn grows just about everywhere in this country. In the great southwest, we grow it like the Anasazi. We also enjoy a wide variety of colored corns. My favorite way to eat corn is grilled with olive oil and herbs. GMO free corn is the only kind I will buy. I add it to soups, salads, salsas and other Mexican favorites. It goes well with just about everything. Corn meal grits make a wonderful breakfast or corn bread.
Beans, legumes and nuts provide protein for smart vegans. We don’t eat much soy here, although we do have it occasionally. Black beans are used most often in vegan southwestern foods. We stay away from re-fried pinto beans in restaurants. That’s because they’re traditionally fried in lard (pig fat). Thankfully, there will often be a black bean option as a southwestern side.
Whatever would southwestern food taste like without salsa? My guess is, it would be pretty dull. At the beginning of a meal here, we often break out the organic corn chips and freshly made salsa. It’s a completely vegan appetizer. The majority of Mexican restaurants here offer it for free. Traditional southwestern salsa is not stereotypically burn your mouth out hot. It’s meant to complement the food, not drown out the flavor. Although, some do prefer the hotter, non-traditional varieties.
More from Jaipi:
Vegan Entertaining – Accommodating Non-vegans
Recipe Free Vegan
5 Ways to Keep Your Vegan Diet Simple