Holidays with Loisa: Plant-based Croquetas

Welcome to Holidays with Loisa! This season we plan to bring you some classics, some twists on the classics, as well as some easy new ways to enjoy Latin flavor besides the big meals. We know the holidays look a little different this year, and many of us (ourselves included) will be taking on more dishes than normal. That in mind, we've gathered an inspiring group of chefs and creators to help you thrive during this unique time with a full season's worth of recipes & insight. 

Check out this great feature from Cristina Curp (@thecastawaykitchen)

On the food:
Croquetas were a staple throughout my childhood. From the greasy paper bags my dad would bring home every Sunday, to la ventanita at La Carretta to the bandejas served at every party or gathering. Croquetas meant time with family. While there were always other finger food items available, like pastelitos de guayaba, papa rellenas y bocaditos, croquetas de jamón were my favorite. The best were not the ones from the go-to bakeries, they were the homemade ones. Particularly my Tia Ceci’s croquetas! What a treat when she showed up with a platter of them to the party, we would all gather around and gobble them right up, they never lasted more than 10 minutes. She’d laugh and say, “I’d make more, but they’re so much work.” It’s true, they’re not the easiest recipe; definitely a labor of love. But when it comes to sharing delicious food with family, it’s always worth it. These Vegan Croquetas are an ode to my Tia Ceci. They take their time to make. These are delicious, gluten-free, and made with nutrient-dense ingredients like navy beans, mushrooms, and oregano. The beautiful color comes from Loisa Sazon! Crisp on the outside and soft on the inside these bites of heaven are a how I honor my family tradition but in a way that feels good for my body. 

Tips for cooking these this holiday season: 
Make sure you’ve got the right tools and plenty of time. Never try to cook new recipes when you’re rushed or in a bad mood. You’re going to need a dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot, a food processor, and a medium-sized scooper. When it comes to getting the consistency for the filling right, go slow, pulse the food processor so you don’t make a puree - you want a slightly chunky paste. Taste as you go. Add salt or flour as needed until it feels just right. You should have a paste that’s soft enough to spoon easily, but firm enough that it holds as shape. The flavor is savory and a little salty, with the garlic and oregano coming through. 

~ VEGAN CROQUETAS ~

Prep Time: 30 minutes, Cook Time: 30 minutes, Makes 20 croquetas/ 10 servings

PREP!

Ingredients:

COOK!

Instructions:

  1. Heat a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. I recommend a 6-quart Dutch oven. While it heats slice your onion and mushrooms. 
  2. Pour the olive oil into the pot and once it’s hot add in your mushrooms. Sauté for 2-4 minutes, until tender. Add in the onions, salt, garlic powder, cumin, oregano, and black pepper. Sauté for 8 minutes or until the onion becomes translucent. Mix in the pecans.
  3. Add in the beans and the Sazón and mix in. Sauté for 4 minutes, scraping up any seasonings that have stuck to the bottom of the pot. 
  4. Carefully transfer the bean mix to a large food processor or high-powered blender. Add in 3 tablespoons of the cassava flour and pulse to combine.
  5. Mix the flaxseed and the water in a small dish until it firms up then add that to the food processor too and pulse until you have a thick paste. 
  6. If it’s not firm enough add in ½ tablespoon of flour and pulse until you’ve reached the desired consistency. I also recommend you taste the filling mix and add more salt to taste at this point. 
  7. Wipe your pot clean and add in 2 cups of oil to the pot, or enough so you have about an inch depth of oil to fry in. Heat over medium heat until a wooden spoon inserted into the oil sizzles or oil is 350F. 
  8. While the oil comes to temperature shape your first batch of croquetas.
  9. Put the remaining flour in a shallow bowl or dish. Use your scoop to make a ball with the bean paste and place it in the flour. Use your fingers to gently roll the ball in the flour then carefully shape it into an oval and place to the side. Repeat until you have 5-6. Use a spoon to place these in the oil one at a time. Fry for 4 minutes on each side, using tongs to turn over. With a slotted spoon, remove the croquetas from the oil and place them on a plate lined with a paper towel. 
  10. While they fry shape your next batch of croquetas and repeat until all of them are fried. This recipe makes about 20 croquetas. 
  11. Serve right away on a tray or save for later, and toast in the oven at 350F for 10 minutes before serving. 

A little bit about Cristina Curp

Cristina Maria Curp is the founder of popular food blog TheCastawayKitchen.com, author of Made Whole and Made Whole Made Simple cookbooks, co-host of Body Wise Podcast, and life long foodie. She grew up in Miami, the daughter of Cuban immigrants, Cristina spent her childhood in the kitchen with her Mami and Abuelas. Food has always been her love language. Later as a restaurant chef, she expanded her culinary prowess to incorporate worldly flavors into her cooking. At thirty years old and suffering daily from pain and inflammation Cristina decided to learn how to cook to heal her body. Now she shares delicious, inventive recipes that are allergen-friendly, anti-inflammatory, and help her and others live pain-free! She splits her time between Alexandria, VA and Tampa, FL with her husband, son, and mini schnauzer. 

Look for more of Cristina Curp below! 

Blog: TheCastawayKitchen.com 

Amazon Book Page: https://amzn.to/35vMz0v 

Made Whole: https://amzn.to/2QvQjuA 

Podcast: https://thecastawaykitchen.com/body-wise-podcast/ 

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