Spirit of the Harvest: Papadzules con Mole de Hierbas (Stuffed Tortillas in Pumpkin Seed Sauce)

March 17, 2010

Spirit of the Harvest: Papadzules con Mole de Hierbas (Stuffed Tortillas in Pumpkin Seed Sauce)
Renowned food author Beverly Cox, winner of the James Beard cookbook award, a Julia Child award and a IACP cookbook award, and food editor for Native Peoples Magazine, contributes a monthly column and weekly recipes to TankaBar.com. The Spirit of the Harvest columns are published the second Wednesday of every month. Recipes from Beverly run on intervening Wednesdays.


4 servings


1 white onion, peeled and quartered
3 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
1 habanero or jalapeno chile, seeded and sliced
3 sprigs fresh epazote or cilantro
4 cups water
Recado de Pepita (pumpkin seed seasoning)
12 small (4 to 5-inch) corn tortillas
6 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
Chiltomate (cooked tomato and chile salsa), warmed
2 cups Cebollas Encurtidas (pickled onions)
Fresh cilantro sprigs, for garnish (optional)


Place quartered onion, garlic, chile and epazote in saucepan, and add the water. Bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer about 15 minutes, until water is well seasoned.

Strain liquid into large measuring cup, discarding vegetables and seasonings. Let cool slightly, then stir 2 to 3 tablespoons of seasoned water into Recado de Pepita.

When mixture is cool enough to handle, squeeze through your fingers until seeds release some of their oil. Spoon oil into a small bowl and set aside.

Gradually whisk more of seasoned water into the recado mixture, until the sauce has the consistency of pancake batter. Keep sauce warm in top of a double boiler over simmering water. Stir occasionally and do not let it boil or it will curdle.

Prepare homemade tortillas and keep warm in tortilla basket; or wrap packaged tortillas in foil and warm in a 350-degree oven for a few minutes.

To prepare the papadzules

Pour 1/3 of the warm pumpkin seed sauce into a skillet. Dip hot tortillas, one by one, into the sauce in the skillet. Place heaping tablespoon of egg on each tortilla and roll it up like an enchilada.

Place 2 or 3 papadzules on individual warmed plates. Cover them with warm pumpkin seed sauce and top with hot chiltomate. Drizzle with reserved pumpkin seed oil and garnish with cebollas.

Place completed dishes in warm oven until all are assembled. Then serve immediately, garnished with cilantro (if using).

The Recado

10 ounces (about 2-1/2 cups) hulled, raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

Place hulled seeds in large skillet over medium-low heat. Toast for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently, until they begin to puff and make popping noises. While still hot, place seeds in blender or food processor and pulse on and off until they are so finely ground they almost form a paste.

Press ground seeds through medium mesh sieve into a bowl. Return unground portions to blender and pulse again until finely ground; pass through the sieve again. If not using immediately, place in airtight container and refrigerate. It should keep several weeks.

The Chiltomate

1 or 2 fresh habanero or jalapeno chiles
1 large white onion, unpeeled, halved
5 or 6 medium-size, firm ripe tomatoes, or 12 plum tomatoes, unpeeled, halved
2 or 3 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
3 tablesoon lard, preferably home-rendered, or vegetable oil
1-1/2 teaspoon minced fresh oregano (preferably Mexican), or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
Salt, to taste

Preheat grilled or large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Roast vegetables and garlic for 6 to 8 minutes, turning with tongs to brown all sides. Peel chile and discard stem and seeds.

Peel and dice onion, tomatoes and garlic. Place roasted ingredients and oregano in mortar or blender or food processor, and grind or chop to desired consistency.

Melt lard in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add salsa and saute 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in oregano and cilantro, and season to taste with salt. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Beverly Cox is the food editor of Native Peoples Magazine and a former food editor and director of food styling for Cook's Magazine. She holds a Grand Diplome from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and apprenticed with Gaston LeNotre.

Beverly has written 13 cookbooks, including Spirit of the Harvest, North American Indian Cooking, winner of the James Beard and IACP cookbook awards in 1992, and Spirit of the West, Cooking from Ranch House and Range, winner of a Julia Child award in 1997, and Spirit of the Earth, Native Cooking from Latin America, an IACP cookbook award finalist in 2002, all co-authored with food photographer Martin Jacobs. Their most recent book is Eating Cuban, 120 Authentic Recipes from the Streets of Havana to American Shores.

Beverly and her husband, Gordon Black, an architect turned rancher, live on the historic Eagle Rock Ranch in Northern Colorado where her great grandfather homesteaded in 1872. Beverly teaches hands-on cooking classes for small groups who want to combine cooking with the experience of visiting a working cattle ranch.

You can contact Beverly at BeverlyCox@TankaBar.com

For more information about Beverly's cookbooks featuring Native American recipes:

Body, Mind and Spirit: Native Cooking of the Americas

Spirit of the Harvest: North American Indian Cooking

Spirit of the Earth: Native Cooking from Latin America

For more information about Native Peoples Magazine: Native Peoples

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