Last month I went to New Mexico for Peace Prayer Day and Summer Solstice Sadhana. I’ve been going to “Solstice” for over 40 years and it is really like a gigantic family reunion, seeing friends from all over the world and meeting so many more. Two thousand yogis camping in the mountains, for 10 days of Kundalini Yoga, Meditation, countless lifestyle and technology classes, and a 3-day White Tantric Yoga course. Powerful!! Transformational!! Peaceful, joyful, and blessed. Besides these events, the beauty of the land and sky, and having wonderfully cozy family time, a big reason I love going to New Mexico is for the food… specifically its incomparable green chile!
New Mexican green chile is also called Hatch green chile. You can purchase prepared (fresh roasted, bottled, canned, frozen roasted) hatch chile in various forms, in supermarkets, roadside vendors, and even online. Trader Joes has started carrying a Hatch green salsa. It’s fairly decent and would be fine to try with the potato suggestion below. Bueno, a New Mexico-based company, sells frozen roasted Hatch green chile, and this is the best source off season. Even the “Mild” is hot, so keep that in mind. The Bueno brand’s “Hot” is very much so! A little googling, and you will find that New Mexican/Hatch green chiles are more and more widely available (a few supermarkets here in Bakersfield, California carry the frozen Bueno green chile).
Papas con Chiles
You can make simple and super good quick meals with roasted green chile. Mash some potatoes (keep them a little lumpy and mash in a little salt, butter, and chopped green onions if you like), top with some green chiles (for about 2-3 pounds of potatoes use at least 1 pint of chopped, roasted green chile/salsa), letting it seep into the crevices of the potatoes, and top with grated cheese. Bake at 400 until golden and melty and you will have one of my most favorite and simple dishes, great as a side or savory breakfast. Add green chile salsa to your nachos or quesadillas, or anything else Mexican/New Mexican.
Quick Spanish Rice
Delicious mixed with rice…. a simple and tasty “Spanish Rice” can be whipped up by adding chopped roasted green chile, chopped tomatoes (canned or chopped & roasted), a little salt and cilantro.
Siri Ved Style Nachos
One of my favorite quick summer meals, easy to whip up when I get home from work, is nachos in Siri Ved style… For one serving, I use either rice or tortilla chips spread around in a pie pan. Chop up half an avocado, half a tomato, 2-3 Tbsp. chopped onion, chopped roasted jalapeno or other chile, pinch of oregano, salt, and a little chopped cilantro… mix those together into a coarse sort of salsa and spread over the chips/rice. If you have some refried beans handy, add a few little dollops.
Then top with grated cheese and broil until golden. While it’s under the broiler, finely chop (just chop straight across in 1/8″ shred) 4-5 leaves of romaine. Mound the lettuce on top of the nachos and top with salsa. That’s it. It takes about 10 minutes total, and is simply perfect.
If you are looking for Hatch chiles (which are only grown in New Mexico) and can’t find them, the regular long green (“Anaheim”) chiles or poblano work just as well. See my article on how to roast chiles and peppers to learn how to easily roast and store chiles for future use. Also, if you do not want the heat of chiles, but want the flavor… remove the seeds and pith (the hottest parts) or simply use bell pepper (any color) instead.
While I was in New Mexico my focus was less on cooking and more on spending time with loved ones and going to some of my favorite restaurants. Tomasita’s, in Santa Fe, is a must and I think they have the best green chile anywhere. Like everywhere in New Mexico, you can order most things with either red or green chile, or “Christmas” style, with half red/half green. You don’t even need to say “chile” — just say “with green” or “with red”. Be sure to ask if the chile is vegetarian or not. Between the red and green, in most/all restaurants at least one of the two is vegan/animal-product free.
I usually stay with friends in Espanola, about 25 miles out of Santa Fe. My favorite restaurants in Espanola include El Parasol… an outdoor spot where you order at the counter and enjoy your meal at a picnic table out under the cottonwoods… it’s a great “slow food” spot, everything made fresh, and sooooo good. I think I went 4 times on this trip, and ordered something different each time. El Parasol has several locations in the Santa Fe-Espanola-Los Alamos triangle, some with indoor seating too. From the menu I recommend the “Khalsa Special” (a rich sort of quesadilla burrito), their vegetarian tacos, and burritos. Or, just order a bowl of pot beans with green chile, a little cheese, and a couple of fresh tortillas. Simple and satisfying.
Next door to El Parasol is it’s parent restaurant, El Paragua, which is fine dining “New Mexico” style, i.e., a beautiful restaurant, that also has great and unique vegetarian options. La Cocina, another favorite spot, has gone through some changes and we are all very sad to see that their guacamole and potato burrito with green chile is no longer on the menu, but their incomparable stuffed sopapilla is… anything on the menu with red or green chile is amazing.
Lastly, on the highway between Espanola and Santa Fe is Gabriel’s…. a truly lovely spot, elegant, in a spectacular setting, plenty of indoor and outdoor dining, the best guacamole ever, made at the table, simply irresistible vegetarian and vegan options including fajitas, tamales, black bean enchiladas, and more. If you are celebrating something special, do it at Gabriel’s!
I was staying with my long time gal pal at her lovely home in Espanola. I had been to Tomasita’s the day before and purchased a pint of their roasted green chile to take home. Deciding this would be great in something for breakfast, we invited a few friends over, along with my daughter and granddaughter already with us, and had a super scrumptious savory brunch.
The menu? Papas con chiles (Mashed potatoes, green chiles, and cheese), scrambled tofu with roasted red peppers, and some luscious oatmeal-orange bread baked by a client of my girlfriend. Sooooo good! Of course, Yogi Tea topped it all off.
I made the potato-green chile-cheese casserole that is pictured a few photos above… it was so easy! My granddaughter wanted hers without the chile, and my daughter wanted hers without the cheese. For my granddaughter, I mixed some mashed potato with a little yogurt and grated cheese and pressed it into a greased muffin tins, like a sort of fat tart shell, and filled the center with some leftover pot beans (also from Tomasita’s).
For my daughter, I took potatoes and chiles together and pressed into the muffin tins. Then I broiled them until golden brown. This worked really well, but would have worked even better if I had more generously oiled the muffin tin, or used liners instead. We had to scoop them out.
I hope you will try some of these ideas and have fun doing it! Of course, the best part is sharing your creation with friends and family, and enjoying together.
Have a beautiful summer!