Tlaltequeadas (Spinach and Squash Blossom Fritters with Roasted Tomato and Jalapeño Salsa)
“One of my favorite pueblitos in México is Tepoztlán in the state of Morelos, south of Mexico City. The markets are known for pre-Hispanic food—food that existed before the arrival of Spanish colonialists. The Spanish brought pigs, cows, wheat, and methods for making cheese to México, but before their arrival, the indigenous people had a very plant-forward diet. They ate mostly vegetables like corn, beans, squash, amaranth, chia, chiles, nuts, and flowers as well as wild fowl and game, insects, fish, and shellfish.
“Crispy-fried tlaltequeada fritters are beautiful and flavorful. I loved seeing the vendors at the market display all of the different kinds. Some were made with beets and were garnet red. Some, made with seasonal native wildflowers, were white, purple, and yellow. Others were made with quelites, different varieties of native leafy wild greens, and were emerald green. I even had one that was pink from red plums and served with a creamy nut-based sauce.
“Tlaltequeadas can be sweet or savory and spicy or not, depending on what is in season and what flavors you like. The fritters are held together by chia and flaxmeal, both of which mimic the consistency of eggs when added to a liquid.” —Martínez
7 large Roma tomatoes, cored and left whole
2 large chiles jalapeños, stemmed
¾ large white onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled
Morton kosher salt
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons chia seeds
2 tablespoons golden flaxmeal
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 cup puffed amaranth
½ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more if necessary
8 ounces mixed wild mushrooms, torn into small pieces (stemmed if using shiitakes)
2 medium carrots, shredded on the large holes of a box grater
1 cup mung bean sprouts
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
12 ounces mature spinach, torn into 1-inch pieces
16 squash blossoms, stems, stamen, and pistils removed, blossoms torn
1. Arrange a rack in the center of the oven; preheat to 475°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or foil.
2. Arrange the tomatoes and chiles jalapeños on the prepared pan and roast until the skin of the tomatoes and jalapeños is dark brown in places and starting to peel away from the flesh, for 30 to 35 minutes.
3. Transfer the tomatoes and jalapeños to a blender, add ¼ cup of the onion, the garlic, and 1½ teaspoons of the salt, and process until completely smooth. Transfer the roasted tomato salsa to a small bowl, stir in the lime juice, and set aside (this can be made up to 8 hours in advance).
4. In a large bowl, stir together the chia seeds, flaxmeal, sesame seeds, and amaranth until combined.
5. In a large skillet, preferably cast-iron, over medium-high, heat 3 tablespoons oil. Add the mushrooms and cook, without stirring, until browned, for 3 to 4 minutes. Toss and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are browned on all sides and tender, for 4 to 5 minutes more. Season with salt and transfer to the bowl with the chia mixture.
6. In the same skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, sprouts, remaining onion, garlic, and 2¼ teaspoons salt. Cook, tossing occasionally, until all of the vegetables are tender, for 6 to 8 minutes.
7. Add the spinach, blossoms, and ¼ cup water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until the spinach is wilted and tender, for about 5 minutes. Transfer the spinach mixture to the bowl with the chia mixture and stir until completely combined. Set aside for 30 minutes to set. During this time, the seeds will absorb any excess liquid and the mixture should hold its shape when squeezed.
8. Using a large ice cream scoop or ¼-cup measure, scoop out the tlaltequeadas mixture and form it into small patties that are about ¾ inch thick and arrange them on a sheet pan.
9. Wipe the skillet clean and heat the remaining ¼ cup oil over medium heat. Working in batches to not overcrowd the pan, fry the tlaltequeadas until deep golden brown on both sides, for 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a large plate lined with paper towels. Continue to fry the remaining patties, adding more oil if necessary.
10. Serve the fried tlaltequeadas warm with the roasted tomato salsa.
Reprinted with permission from Mi Cocina: Recipes and Rapture from My Kitchen in Mexico by Rick Martínez copyright © 2022. Photographs copyright © 2022 by Ren Fuller. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House.