Nicaragua is an ethnically and culturally diverse country in Central America, a a former colony of Spain. It gained independence back in the 1800s, though it was occupied by the U.S. from 1912 to 1933, which was followed by several dictatorships. Nicaragua has three distinct geographical regions: the Pacific lowlands, the Amerrisque Mountains, and the Mosquito Coast. Coffee is the main export and tourism is heavily growing. Music, dancing, literature and folklore are important forms of culture and baseball is the favorite sport, followed by boxing. Nicaragua is one of the poorest countries in the Americas and population growth is very high, but life expectancy is still well over 70 years. Nicaragua is also one of five countries in the world where abortion is illegal with no exceptions.
Corn is the staple of Nicaraguan cuisine, eaten as several popular savoury dishes like nacatamal (similar to tamales), desserts and made into beverages as well, like pinolillo which is flavoured with cocoa. Beans and rice are also used a lot. Other common ingredients include e.g. coconut, yuca, avocados, bananas/plantains, mango, papaya and tamarind. Several vegetables and spices lesser known in the Western world are also used, like mimbro or tree sorrel, jocote (related to cashews), quequisque (a type of starchy corm) and culantro or Mexican coriander. There is a large variety of desserts, many containing fruit but also rich ones based on milk, honey or coconut. Most of the large variety of traditional drinks are made with fruit. Macuá is called the national drink of Nicaragua and usually contains rum, lime juice and guava juice.
Chimichurri is a pesto-like herb sauce used in several South American countries. It’s perhaps best known as an Argentinean condiment used for meat, but it’s also popular in e.g. Nicaragua. I’ve lost my notes as to where I got this chimichurri recipe or whether it was combined from several different ones. Sorry! Several Nicaraguan chimichurri recipes featured a small amount of dried oregano yet at least one source said it’s not used in Nicaragua. Instead of mock meat I decided to use cauliflower “steaks”. While not exactly meat-like, they are a very tasty way to prepare cauliflower and I find they work the best with herbs, like pesto.
3 cloves garlic
0.5 tsp salt
1/2 cup/1.2 dl flat leaf parsley, packed
2 tbsp white vinegar
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper to taste
Blend all the ingredients together until it resembles coarse pesto. Use as a marinade/sauce for e.g. tofu, seitan or cauliflower steaks. It should make enough for four cauliflower steaks.
For cauliflower “steaks”, take a medium or large cauliflower and slice it stem-wise into two with a long-bladed sharp knife. Cut a relatively thin slice (maybe 1/3″ or 0.75 cm) from the cut side of both halves. Even the largest cauliflower usually only yields two steaks. You can of course use the remains for other dishes.
Trim off any excess cauliflower stem. Smother chimichurri on the steaks. Fry the steaks in oil on medium heat until tender, about 5-8 minutes (test whether they can be pierced with a fork). Serve hot with the remaining chimichurri (if there is any left).