In honor of Earth Day, how about whipping up something green in the kitchen, like this Mexican style calabacitas dish? (Photo/BettyCortina)

3 “green” recipes for Earth Day!

If you’re looking for ways go green on Earth Day, here are three delicious ideas: Make one—or all!—of the following and you’ll not only be savoring something as healthy for you it is for the planet (veggies are generally considered to have a lower carbon footprint than beef), you’ll also be diving into some Mexican classics. Always a good thing, whether or not it’s a holiday.

First is calabacitas, a sauté of summer squash, onions and poblano peppers laced with cumin, oregano and fresh cilantro. It makes for a great side dish or a filling for veggie tacos or quesadillas. Next, a glass of refreshing cucumber mint agua fresca sweetened with simple syrup—a thirst-quenching, healthy alternative to soda, and a great way to sneak a cucumber into your diet. Last, no list of green Latin foods would be complete without a recipe for guacamole, which you’ll want to keep on hand since Cinco de Mayo is right around the corner. In the meantime, feliz Earth Day!


1 whole poblano pepper

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp butter

1 medium yellow onion, finely diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp dried oregano

4 small green zucchinis, diced into 1/2-inch pieces

2 tbsp roughly chopped cilantro

1/4 cup queso fresco, crumbled

Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven broiler.

2. Roast the poblano chile under the broiler (or directly on a gas flame). When the pepper has blistered on all sides, remove from oven, place in a medium bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to sit for 15 minutes. Once cool enough to handle, remove the pepper’s skin, core and seed, and dice into small pieces. Set aside.

3. In a large skillet, heat oil and butter until over medium heat. When the butter is foaming, add the onion and cook until translucent, about 4 or 5 minutes. Add the garlic, pepper, cumin and oregano and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the zucchini and cook for another 7 to 8 minutes, until tender.

4. Remove from the heat, stir in the cilantro and queso. Serve as a side dish or use as taco or quesadilla stuffing. Makes 4 servings.

Cucumber mint agua fresca

Cucumber Mint Agua Fresca

Cucumber Mint Agua Fresca (Photo/Betty Cortina)

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup water, plus 4 more cups

2 large seedless, English cucumbers, peeled, and cut into 1-inch chunks

Juice of 2 limes

A sprig of fresh mint

Pinch of salt

1. Make a simple syrup: Over medium heat in a small saucepan, bring sugar and 1/2 cup of water to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until sugar dissolves completely. Set aside to cool.

2. Working in batches, blend together the diced cucumber and 4 cups of water. Strain through a fine strainer or a colander lined with cheese cloth. Allow to strain for 30 minutes.

3. Stir in the lime juice. Stir in the simple syrup to taste. Add a pinch of salt and stir once more. Refrigerate for at least an hour.

4. Serve over lots of ice. Makes 4 servings.


Guacamole (Photo/Betty Cortina)

Guacamole (Photo/Betty Cortina)

 3 Hass avocados

1/2 medium onion, finely diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 plum tomato, seeded, diced

1 jalapeño, cored, seeded, finely diced

Juice of 1 lime

1/4 tsp ground cumin

2 tbsp cilantro, roughly chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Cut the avocado in half lengthwise. Using a sharp chef knife, remove and discard the pit. Using a paring knife, make crosshatch cuts into the avocado. Scoop out the avocado with a spoon and put in a large bowl. Add the onion, garlic, tomatoes, jalapeño, lime juice and cumin. Using a potato masher or a fork, combine the ingredients, gently mashing the avocado chunks. Be careful not to over mash; leave somewhat chunky.

2. Stir in the cilantro and season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate for about 10 minutes and serve. Makes 3 to 4 servings.

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