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Huauzontles is distinctive in its appearance. When growing in the field or garden the plant grows upright branches with red tinted green leafy stems which produce flower clusters that have the appearance of baby broccoli buds. The buds sprout from tiny branches upward and outward from the plant's stems. One of huauzontles most noticeable features is its sharp herbaceous aroma which intensifies in close proximity. The flavor is also unique, with notes of pepper, spinach, mint and cruciferous undertones reminiscent of broccoli. Only the buds and seeds are suitable for fresh eating as the fibrous nature and unfavorable flavor of the stems allows only for eating cooked. Mature plants produce edible flowers.
Huauzonties can be found in Latin and farmers markets in season.
Huauzontles, botanical name Chenopodium nuttalliae, also called huazontles or Cuazontles, is a member of the goosefoot family along with quinoa, lamb's quarters, purslane and amaranth. It is an herbaceous plant grown for its buds and seeds.
The most common way to eat Huauzontles is in the dish, tortas de huauzontle, where the buds and stems are boiled, drained, battered and fried, covered in cheese and then bathed in a cheese, cream based or tomato sauce. Less traditional preparations are left to the imagination of the cook. The buds can be sauteed in butter or olive oil, served alongside fried eggs for breakfast and substituted within recipes calling for broccoli, adding to soups, gratins or pastas. Favorable pairings include cheese, cream, chiles, bacon, cured meats such as pancetta and prosciutto, lemon, lime, cumin, light-bodied vinegars, eggs, garlic, hard cheeses such as parmesan and pecorino or fresh cheeses such as mozzarella, chevre and feta. The dried seeds can be ground into flour or mixed with flour for preparing bread.
Citizens of the Aztec nation in pre-Columbian Mexico paid an annual tribute to their government in the form of agricultural products and records indicate that annual payments of 160,000 bushels of huauzontles, known then as "huauthli" were used as payment. The crop also played a significant role in Mexican religious ceremonies. The culinary use of huauzontles is very common throughout Mexican communities during the period of Lent.
Huauzontles is native to Mexico and documentation of its cultivation dates back to pre-Columbian periods of the Aztec nation. As it is a naturally wind pollinated plant it hybridized with C. quinoa of the Andean South America to form a single sub species that has been confused with huauzontles, which when growing wild is considered a weed versus a food crop. Use of huauzontles as an agricultural commodity was suppressed and replaced by Spanish colonials. Thus, the plant itself, is often described as being a relic of the past as little to no cultivation existed between Aztec civilization and the later half of the 20th Century. The 21st Century has brought about an agricultural resurgence for huauzontles. It is now grown commonly throughout Southern Mexico into Southwestern America and parts of Northeastern America.
Recipes that include Huauzontles. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Cuisine Xplorers||Mima's Tortas de Huauzontle|
|Mexican Food and More||Huauzontles Croquettes|
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