No Lard and No Cheese / No Manteca y No Queso

Last week someone from my husband's family said; "I love Mexican food but if I eat it every day I will probably gain a lot of weight." Why? I asked. "Well, because Mexican food is very rich and with all that lard and cheese..." Not all Mexican food is heavy and not everything has lard and cheese, I said. "Really?"

I think it has something to do with their misconception that all Mexican food is prepared with lard. The Mexican food I have shared with my American family is mostly the dishes that they like and that they have eaten in a Mexican restaurant in the United States. They like my food and they always want me to cook beans and salsa for them. When I first made chilaquiles for my husband's family, they thought it was the best thing they ever ate. Until this day every time I visit them all they want is for me to cook chilaquiles; they even have the ingredients ready for when I arrive. I told them I know how to cook other things but they don't care, chilaquiles is all they want!

I hardly ever use lard in my dishes but I guess the person that made the above comment thought I did. The last thing I want is to scared people away from real Mexican food for fear of gaining weight. So, from now on, I'm taking those comments as a challenge. Next time I visit my in-laws (or when they come to visit me), I'm going to prepare a new Mexican dish for them; one that does not include lard or cheese in its preparation; and since there are many, they will be surprised and I'm sure they will enjoy discovering new and delicious Mexican dishes.

This dish may be perceived as unhealthy because part of it is fried. But I assure you, the end product is not heavy or greasy at all. It is a nice vegetarian dish with a light feel and is delicious. Ah! and includes neither lard nor cheese.

Cauliflower Florets in Broth

1 large head cauliflower
4 egg whites and 2 egg yolks
3/4 cup flour
Vegetable oil, enough for frying 
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1 cup tomato sauce (homemade or purchased)
1/2 cup vegetable broth (can use chicken broth or water)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons fresh oregano, finely chopped (can use dried oregano)

Wash and cut cauliflower into small florets, not too big and not too small. Drain and pad dry.
Beat egg whites until stiff. Add the egg yolks and continue beating until just incorporated.
Put flour on a dish and season with salt. Dip the florets in the flour, then into the beaten egg and then fry in hot oil. Place on paper towel to drain excess oil.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet and sauté the sliced onion until translucent. Add tomato sauce, vegetable broth and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the oregano and cauliflower florets. Simmer until the flavors are incorporated, about 10 minutes.
Serve hot.