Latin Foods


Ever wonder what those Latin foods are and if they’re something you can use in your cooking? We’re here to tell you!

Some call it the Mexican peanut but it’s a pumpkin seed. Pepitas are larger than a sunflower seed and green. They’re a great snack food, salted or unsalted, or use ’em in salads or stews.

It looks like a green tomato, it kinda sounds like a little tomato, but it’s not a tomato. It’s a different species altogether and grows with an outer husk that needs to be removed. Mort tart than tomatoes, tomatillos are used raw, blanched, fire roasted or dry roasted. In all cases, they’re normally used to make a sauce that would be nothing without onions, garlic and salt.

It’s like a yam with hair. That hairy skin is inedible, so be sure to remove it. Nuttier in taste than a potato, it can be fried, stewed or grilled. It is also ground into a paste for use as a hypoallergenic substitute for flour. Who knew?

Cross a pear with an avocado, add a few wrinkles and you’ll have what looks like this squash. It’s used as a vegetable or treated like a fruit to make sauces, pasta, soups and jams. It’s also fun to say.

You might know it as a chipotle. It’s a dried, smoked version of the jalapeño pepper that has an aromatic smoky smell reminiscent of bacon. Only it’s way healthier than bacon.

Ancho Other than the jalapeño, this is the most popular of several chilies used in Mexico. A poblano pepper, once dried, becomes ancho chili. For a sauce, remove the stem, soak in hot water, chop and sauté with onion, tomato and vegetable oil.

We could talk a lot about this tender pad of the nopal cactus, mostly found in groceries in the Southwest, but check out our Fare with a Southern Flair for all the details!

Mole poblano
There are red and green moles (pronounced MOH-lehs), but dark brown wins hands down. Straight out of the jar, this thick paste, which often contains ancho chilies, is not sweet, although it has bitter chocolate as an ingredient (thus the dark brown color). Mole sauces are great on chicken or pork.

Plantains (plátanos in Spanish) look like a large banana. They are green or yellow and can be fried while green if used like a potato. But wait until the fruit turns yellow with the edges going black, and it fries quicker and comes out sweeter.