Ecuadorian Menestra is the national dish of Equador. This is a vegetarian/vegan version.
|Ayngelina of Bacon is Magic
I am so pleased to present a guest post by one of my favorite bloggers, Ayngelina of Bacon is Magic.
Ayngelina left her job, boyfriend, apartment and friends to explore Latin America solo, to figure out what her life is all about. What I love most about Bacon is Magic is Ayngelina’s down to earth, honest, tell it like it is voice. I feel like I am sitting across the table from her at one of the cafes she’s visiting when I read her posts, and can imagine myself climbing Waynapicchu with her. I love living vicariously through Ayngelina’s traveling adventures, and I especially admire her courage and guts to leave everything behind to do what she loves while trying to figure out what her life is all about. In today’s guest post, Ayngelina shares a recipe for Ecuadorian Menestra, one of the many foods she has been able to taste along her journey.
|Ecuadorian Menestra (photo courtesy of Bacon Is Magic)
I have been traveling through Latin America for ten months and had my share of local food. Some of it has been amazing and some I’ve been happy to leave.
While Ecuador is a haven for pork lovers, the region has quite a few vegetarian options. It isn’t because there are a lot of vegetarians in Ecuador, there aren’t, but because Ecuadorians love good food and some of the most well known Ecuadorian dishes do not contain meat.
If you visit this country of amazing people and spectacular scenery the one thing you will find everywhere is the national dish – menestra. Although it is from the province of Manabi it can be found in all regions. Most often made with lentils, you may also see it with chickpeas or red beans.
You will only find it made from scratch but it often accompanies meat, rice and fried plantain. For vegetarians, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask for it with an egg instead and vegans will find that Ecuadorians have no problem serving it without meat or egg and instead give you a bit of extra menestra and rice.
The dish is also incredibly easy to make at home with this traditional recipe.
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion diced
- 1 pepper diced
- 3 medium tomatoes diced
- 7 cloves garlic minced
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 4 tablespoons fresh cilantro chopped
- 7 cups water
- 1 pound lentils rinsed and drained
In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat.
Make a refrito by adding onion, pepper, tomato, garlic, cumin, salt, and half the cilantro. Cook until all ingredients have softened, about 3-4 minutes.
ring heat to high and add the water, bringing to a boil. Add lentils and reduce heat to low, cover partially and cook until the lentils are tender.
Remove from heat and add remaining cilantro as a garnish.
If you like things spicy you may want to add a bit of cayenne pepper to the dish along with the cumin. However, in Ecuador aji (hot sauce) is served at the table as a condiment so Ecuadorians can each add spice to their own liking.