We must admit, we've never truly understood the exclamation "holy mole" until we went through the amazing process of actually making mole. There are so many unexpected ingredients that go into this sauce and we've found that ingredients can vary depending on the variety of sauce being made. Mole is a chile based sauce used in Mexican cuisine that can be made with a variety of chiles and also contains vegetables, nuts, seeds, spices, and even chocolate. It is traditionally made in large batches for special occasions - perfect for our ongoing celebration of National Nutrition Month! The long ingredient list can look daunting but this sauce is truly worth the effort. You'll notice how healthy and nutrient packed this sauce really is and we even added our own superfood spin. We found mole to be a perfect base for both maca and pomegranate additions - from Navitas Organics, of course! For many of the other ingredients check out your local ethnic grocer, though note that the dried chile varieties can also be found online.
Here at The Green Blossom Kitchen we have an ongoing love affair with maca. We've used it in previous recipes and explained some of the various health benefits (here). As a brief review, maca is a plant that grows at high altitudes in the Andean Mountains and the superfood powder is made from the maca root. Though maca is not a medical treatment, it is believed to aid in balancing hormones and the endocrine system, which could improve stress management, energy, and reproductive and fertility issues. Pomegranate powder, made from the pomegranate fruit seed, contains abundant antioxidants. We've also discussed antioxidants in prior posts (including here) but are happy to provide a refresher. Antioxidants help the body fight cellular damage from free radicals (or damaged molecules) that naturally occur in our bodies as a result of physiological process and exposure to the environment. Navitas Organics pomegranate powder is carefully processed - seeds are juiced, freeze dried, and then milled into powder - to preserve as much of these beneficial antioxidants as possible. Navitas has even more great information on their website (here) so definitely check them out! One question we often get about superfoods is how best to incorporate them into the diet. We think that any way you enjoy superfoods is great but love to provide new and unique recipe ideas to keep things exciting. This week's recipe is definitely a unique (and delicious!) use of both of these amazing superfoods.
PREP TIME: 60 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 90 minutes
Servings: 8-10 cups mole
8 dried mulato chiles
8 dried pasilla chiles
4 dried chilhuacle negro chiles
1 plum tomato, halved
½ medium onion, sliced into quarters
3 tomatillos, husks removed, rinsed
3 garlic cloves
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1/2 ripe plantain, peeled and sliced lengthwise
1/2 cup Navitas Organics maca powder
4 Tbsp almonds
1, 4" corn tortilla, torn into 2" pieces
2 cinnamon sticks
3 whole allspice
3 whole cloves
2 Tbsp golden raisins
4 Tbsp Navitas Organics raw hemp seeds
2 Tbsp raw sesame seeds
1 tsp dried oregano
⅛ tsp aniseed
⅛ teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 cup Navitas Organics pomegranate powder
4 ounces dark chocolate (65% or greater), chopped
2 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 - 2 tsp sea salt
Using a damp cloth, clean outside of chiles. Cut chiles in half, discard stems, remove seeds and ribs and set aside. In a large skillet toast seeds and ribs until blacked - about 5 minutes - then remove from pan and save in a clean bowl. In the same pan, working in batches lay chiles in a single layer and cook until skin is slightly blistered and charred. Continue until all chilies have been toasted. Place cooked chiles into a large bowl and cover with boiled water. Allow chiles to soak for about 20 minutes to soften.
Add tomato, tomatillos, onion, and garlic to the skillet and place over medium to high heat. Cook vegetables until blackened making sure to turn as needed for an even char. Add charred vegetables to a blender with 1-2 cups of vegetable broth and process until smooth then set aside.
Add 1 Tbsp coconut oil to the same skillet, add the sliced plantain, and cook on medium heat until golden on both sides - about 3-4 minutes - then place in a bowl. Carefully wipe the skillet clean then add the almonds and tortilla pieces to the skillet and toast on medium heat until fragrant, about 3-5 minutes. Remove almonds and tortilla from the skillet and place in the bowl with the plantain. Add cinnamon sticks, allspice, cloves, golden raisins, hemp seeds, sesame seeds, oregano, aniseed, and cumin seeds to the pan and toast on low to medium heat for 3-4 minutes, or until fragrant, then add to the bowl with the plantain. Working in batches, add contents of plantain bowl, maca powder, and 2 cups broth to a blender and blend on high until completely smooth then set aside.
Drain chiles making sure to reserve the soaking liquid. Add chiles to a blender with 2 cups soaking liquid and blend on high until completely smooth. Add pomegranate powder, toasted chile seeds, and chile ribs to the blender and continue to blend on high until completely smooth.
In a large pot, add chile puree, plantain puree, and vegetable puree and cook on low to medium heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring often. Allow mole to cool, then place 1 1/2 cups aside for the jackfruit lettuce wraps (if making). Any mole you do not plan on eating or sharing with friends within 5 days should be stored in air tight containers to be frozen for later use. When ready to use, remove frozen mole sauce from the freezer and place in the fridge for about 24 hours prior to use to completely thaw. Mole sauce can be reheated on the stove top, in the oven, or microwave.
*Note that this recipe will work best with a high speed blender (ex: Vitamix, Blendtec). If you don't have a high speed blender we recommend straining the chile puree (step 4) after blending through a fine mesh sieve. The plantain puree (step 3) may require an additional 1/2-1 cup vegetable broth for optimal blending. The other purees (step 2) should be fine without straining.
Sweet & Spicy Pomegranate Pickled Relish
PREP TIME: 10 minutes + 8 hours to pickle
TOTAL TIME: 10 minutes + 8 hours to pickle
Servings: 1 1/2-2 cups
1 large carrot, peeled and sliced into 1/8" rounds
3 large pink radishes, peeled and sliced into 1/8" rounds
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
3" fresh jalapeno, sliced into 1/8" rounds
1/2 cup white distilled vinegar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup cane sugar
1 Tbsp Navitas Organics pomegranate powder
1 tsp sea salt
In a small sauce pan add vinegars, sugar, and salt and cook on medium heat stirring constantly until sugar and salt are fully dissolved. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Using a sharp knife or a mandolin set to a 1/8" cut, slice peeled carrot, radishes, and jalapeno into rounds. Add vegetables, chopped cilantro, and pomegranate powder to a glass jar or bowl then pour cooled liquid over the top. Cover with a lid or plastic wrap and allow to sit out at room temperature for 8 hours until vegetables soften and slightly wilt. Store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Superfood Mole Jack Fruit Lettuce Wraps
PREP TIME: 30 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 (makes 8 wraps)
2, 20 oz cans young jack fruit, drained and rinsed (we used Aroy-D brand found at some specialty grocers or online)
1 1/2 cup superfood mole sauce (recipe above)
16 fresh lettuce leaves, rinsed and dried (we used butter lettuce)
1/2 cup sweet & spicy pomegranate pickled relish (recipe above)
Drain and rinse jack fruit. Using your hands, lightly pull jack fruit segments apart into smaller pieces. Place pulled jack fruit in a sauce pan along with 1 1/2 cups superfood mole sauce and cook on low heat for 25-30 minutes or until jack fruit is tender and well coated in sauce. Remove from heat and set aside. Overlap 2 butter lettuce leaves, fill each leaf with 1/4-1/2 cup jackfruit, and top with pickled relish. Serve wraps warm or at room temperature. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge in air tight containers for up to 5 days. We recommend keeping the leftover jack fruit separate from the relish and lettuce leaves for easy reheating.
What else can we say but holy mole! This sauce recipe is a true show stopper and will make enough for a large group or extras to save for later use. The depth of flavor is astounding: spicy from the chiles, earthy from the scorched vegetables, tangy from the blend of spices, and rich from the nuts, seeds, and dark chocolate. We think this sauce will lend itself to a variety of uses, though absolutely loved it with pulled jackfruit in our butter lettuce wraps. We can't wait to hear from you about your experience with mole and Navitas' products.
Jess and Cecelia
Jess and Cecelia welcome you to our kitchen. We are fun-loving and passionate foodies working to make the world a healthier, happier place one plant based recipe at a time.