Mole sauce is such a Mexican classic! A full-on fiesta of flavours; spices, chilli, smoky chipotle, creamy black beans, chocolate and here I’ve added some cashew butter instead of the traditional peanuts.
These beans are quite a mouthful! Spicy, chilli, creamy with a tickle of lime at the end and when served with smoky tofu bacon and all your favourite Mexican condiments; salsa, avocado/ guac etc you’ve got a Mexican feast. There is a black bean & cacao recipe in Peace & Parsnips, this is a new twist on that really.
I was lucky to travel from the North to the South of Mexico by car a good few years ago. Zig zagging down Mexico I did munch the odd taco and was blown away by Mole! I’d never heard of it before and was mesmerised by the complexity of it, the stories of how it takes days to make (something to do with grinding and roasting all the ingredients). It seemed like such a legend! It is. Normally served as a treat during a massive, joyful party, which are common in Mexico, so much so that ‘Ir a un mole’ (Go to a mole) is used to say ‘Go to a wedding’.
Mole comes in all shades in Mexico, of which Mole Poblano is probably the most famous, the flavours of which, if not the techniques of cooking, my mole beans take after.
How many savoury dishes are enhanced and inspired by chocolate so effortlessly and deliciously? I have used Willie’s 100% Chulucanas Peruvian Cacao, bought by the block, you will find it in supermarkets and of course, on line. This is the best cacao I’ve ever tasted in the UK. Grated into this dish, it will be sublime! Adding richness and depth to the dish. However, other cacao and cocoas will be more than fine also. I’m thinking about experimenting with a cacao gravy for Christmas dinner. I’ll let you know how that goes.
I’ve streamlined the traditional recipe here big time, it’s normally quite involved and uses a whole cupboard of ingredients, spices and a whole gaggle of Mexican style chillies, which are totally awesome, but not always that easy to get hold of. Chipotle paste is a decent go to, I made my own Chipotle en Adobo recently, which is well worth it if you’re a Mexican food fan or just mad about things chilli and smoky.
The real inspiration for this dish was Helga, a good friend of my sis’s, Laura. Helga is Mexican and sent these beans from Mexico City to be used especially for just such a dish. I’d also like to thank the cooks of the B.H.K Vegan Cooking Group on Facebook, who voted for a savoury dish this week. The delicious thing about this type of dark mole is that it skirts between sweet and savoury, with the addition of raisins here and a good amount of cocoa/ cacao. I must admit, I was a bit surprised when the savoury vote came in, I was sure it would be sweet all the way! I’d even got a recipe lined up and everything!!
I’ve added grated golden beetroot, red cabbage and red pepper to the plate, for crunch and colour. These kind of ingredients, along with carrots, cauliflower, savoy cabbage etc can all add the same crunch and colour to any dish. Brightens things up no end!
I’ve added some simple tomato salsa to the dish and sliced avocado. Lime, essential on, or in, most things Mexican and of course a god tickle of chilli! I also like serving this dish with some warm tacos/ tortillas.
These beans and bacon make the most perfect leftovers, especially when wrapped up in a warm tortilla (I like the corn ones). When I say tortilla, I mean the soft ones, not the big nacho style ones that look like napkin holders.
The black kale/ cavolo nero, adds great texture to the beans. Savoy Cabbage or Spring Greens will also be delicious.
Chipotle paste?! No probs. Head down a supermarket and ask someone. It’s there.
I used the crumble method of cooking the tofu bacon in the pics. Both methods are really nice.
If you plan on keeping the mole, don’t stir in the lime juice until you are about to serve it. Tastes amazing that way.
(By the way, for those who are not too familiar with Mole, the e has a little dash over it, making it Mole as in Olé! Not the same as the small, lovely creature that terrorises lawns.)
Cashew & Kale Black Bean Mole with Smoky Bacon (Vegan)
The Bits – For 4
550g black beans (cooked)
2 big handfuls black kale/ cavolo nero (chopped into strips)
1 large onion (sliced)
4 cloves garlic (crushed)
3 medium tomatoes (chopped)
2 tbs tomato puree
1 stick cinnamon
2 teas all spice
2 teas ground coriander
4 tbs raisins
2 tbs chipotles en adobo/ chipotle paste (how hot do you like it?!)
250ml water/ or bean cooking broth
2 tbs cocoa/ cacao
3-4 tbs cashew butter/ peanut butter
1-2 teas sea salt
1 lime (juice)
2 tbs cooking oil
Salt and pepper (for seasoning)
2 handfuls coriander
1-2 chilli (ﬁnely sliced)
Vegan yoghurt/ sour cream/ creme fraiche
In a large saucepan, warm the oil on medium heat, fry the onion for 12 minutes until caramelised and golden, add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the cinnamon stick, all spice, chipotle sauce, coriander, raisins, tomatoes and tomato puree and stir. Cook for 5 minutes until the tomatoes are soft, add the beans and water. Put a lid on it and cook on a low heat for 20 minutes.
Stir in the cashew butter, kale and cacao, cook for a further 10 minutes. The beans should be breaking down and going a little creamy. Now stir in the lime juice, season with salt and a good amount of pepper and serve straight away.
Serving ideas – Ideal with a crumble of tofu bacon, sour cream/ yoghurt and coriander. It makes a nice dip too. Take the cinnamon sticks out and pulse it s few times in a blender. Serve with nachos and guacamole.
Smoky Tofu Bacon
The Bits – Serves 6-8 as nibbles
450g firm tofu (cut into bite size pieces, cut thinly for sandwiches)
3-4 teas smoked paprika (more if you like it really smokey!)
1/2 teas turmeric
1 1/2 teas maple syrup
1 teas nutritional yeast flakes
2 teas tamari/ soya sauce
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbs veg oil
Mix marinade ingredients together in a bowl. Marinate in a fridge for a couple of hours or overnight is good.
Preheat a fan oven to 200oC and place tofu onto a lightly oiled baking tray. Cook in the oven for 25 minutes. Until nice and crisp.
Serve straight away but is also very nice served cold.
Use the leftover marinade to dip the tofu in or as a base for a dressing or even add to a stew/ soup to add a little flavour kick.
For the tofu bacon crumble – I mashed up the tofu, then marinated. Drained excess marinade and fried in a large frying pan on medium/ high heat with 2 tbs cooking oil until caramelised and crispy, roughly 8-10 minutes.
Black beans are one of the best sources of protein out there. They are also one of the best sources of things called phytonutrients (basically, compounds in plants that do us loads of good). They’re a good source of iron, copper and plenty of fibre. They will help us to take care of our bones and heart, they even contain selenium, which is not found in many places in a plant-based diet. Overall, they are a very healthy and super tasty star!
I couldn’t write about Mexico without sending my love and best wishes to all effected by the recent earthquake in and around Mexico City. If you’d like to help, here are details of an amazing charity, A Hand for Mexico, based in Mexico City and helping the people affected, as well as helping to re-build the city, focusing on shelters, schools and hospitals.