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Atapakua, this spicy Mexican vegetable stew from Michoacan is simmered in a smoky chile guajillo sauce made with pumpkin seeds, fresh corn, spearmint, garlic, and tomato.  It is a unique combination of very Mexican flavors and spices. If you have never tried it, you are in for a treat!!

 ingredients for atapakua, corn, potato, mushrooms, tomato, chile guajillo, pumpkin seeds, chayote, and zucchini

What is Atapakua??

Atapakua is a traditional dish from Michoacan that has prehispanic origins, prepared for hundreds of years by the Purepecha indigenous people. It is thought that before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadores atapakua used only plant-based ingredients like chilacayote, its flowers, and other vegetables, and legumes. After the conquest, animal products were added to the dish.

diced sweet potato, chayote, and zucchini on a sheet tray for atapakua

In Michoacan, you can find different variations of atapakua. It can be prepared with tomatoes or tomatillos, making it green or red in color. Atapakua is notable for its use of fresh corn or masa to thicken the sauce giving it an earthy flavor.

sauteed mushrooms in a cast iron pan

Our Vegan Mexico Project

This recipe is part of an amazing project called Our Vegan Mexico, where 32 talented cooks will be showcasing, right here on Dora’s Table, 32 vegan Mexican recipes. Each recipe will be representing one state of the Mexican union.

roasted ingredients for atapakua in a blender

With this project, I am hoping to encourage the Mexican community in the U.S., and the people of my country to take a chance and make the change to a plant-based diet. This recipe, which is representing the state of Michoacan, is the creation of Cynthia Estrada of @nutricionycocina, and here she with a message.

Cynthia’s Message:

They say that the Earth needs to be saved. Before existing as men, women or your gender of preference we are human beings, and before that we are animals, just another species. The planet evolves, the species become extinct.

atapakua in a clay cazuela, on a purple table mat, surrounded by tomato, zucchini and mint

I accept the word ecologist to describe me. The reality is that I am just trying to save myself. Earth can exist without humans, but we can’t exist without the earth. So why have I decided to reduce the consumption of animal products in my life and everything that goes with it?? The preservation of my person.

I decided to reduce my consumption of animal products for my health, to improve my existence on this planet, to have more energy, and improve my economy.

bright orange-red sauce for atapakua in a sauce pot

The Recipe: Atapakua – Spicy Mexican Vegetable Stew

  • If you want to prepare this recipe without oil, simply toast the pumpkin seeds and chile guajillo until golden brown in a cast iron pan. Saute the onion and garlic in a little bit of water.
  • You can add zucchini blossoms, fava beans or green beans to add more variety to the dish.
  • If you think sweet potato is too sweet you can use potato instead
  • The sauce is not very spicy since it uses only guajillo chiles, but if you do want it spicy you can add 1-2 serrano chiles.
  • For a deeper smoky flavor, you can roast the tomato on a cast iron pan or under your oven broiler until it has black spots all over, then add it to the blender.
  • The recipe calls for fresh corn, but since corn in the US is so much sweeter than Mexican corn, to make this récipe more authentic tasting use ½ fresh corn and ½ fresh masa. If you do use masa, let the sauce simmer for 15 min.

  atapakua in a clay cazuela, on a purple table mat, surrounded by tomato, zucchini and mint

5 from 1 vote
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Atapakua - Mexican Vegetable Stew

Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword atapakua, vegan mexican, vegetable stew
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 2 people
247 kcal
Author Dora S.

Ingredients

  • 1 Sweet potato, peeled, cut into cubes
  • 1 Chayote or chilacayote, cut into cubes
  • 1 Zucchini, cut into cubes
  • 3 Guajillo chiles, seeds and stems removed
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, seeds removed
  • 2 cloves Garlic, peeled
  • ¼ Large white onion, peeled, chopped
  • 10 Pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • ¼ cup Water
  • 1 cup Fresh corn kernels
  • 1 tbsp. Spearmint or mint, chopped
  • 8 oz. Oyster or maitake mushrooms (any mushroom will do)
  • 1 Avocado leaf, dried, crumbled
  • Avocado Oil (Optional)

Preparation

Sweet Potato, Zucchini and Chayote

  1. Pre-heat oven to 450°F for 15 minutes.
  2. Place sweet potato, zucchini, and chayote on a parchment lined sheet tray, season with salt and pepper.
  3. Turn heat down to 350°F and bake for 20 minutes.

Salsa

  1. Heat a large sauté pan to low heat and add 1 tbsp. of oil (if you are oil-free see notes). Add pumpkin seeds and chile guajillo and cook until golden brown, remove from pan and set aside. Add onion and garlic to pan and cook until golden brown (keep garlic whole).
  2. In a small pot, simmer the corn in water until tender, about 2-3 minutes. Strain and reserve ¼ cup of the corn cooking liquid, and 1 tbsp. of corn kernels for garnish.
  3. Place the corn, chile guajillo, pumpkin seeds, onion, garlic, tomato, and ¼ cup of the corn water and blend until smooth.
  4. Add 1 tbsp. of spearmint, season with salt and pepper, and blend again.
  5. Pour the sauce into a medium sauce pot, set to medium-low heat, and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 3-5 minutes, then turn off heat, cover and keep warm.

Mushrooms:

  1. In a large sauté pan set to medium high-heat, sauté the mushrooms until golden brown in avocado oil (oil is optional), about 6-7 minutes.
  2. Season with salt and pepper. Crush the avocado leaf in your hands and sprinkle it over the mushrooms.

To serve:

  1. Place the sautéed mushrooms in a large bowl or cazuela. Add the sweet potato, zucchini, and chayote.
  2. Pour the sauce over the vegetables and stir.
  3. Garnish with corn kernels, and spearmint leaves.
  4. Serve with your favorite beans and corn tortillas.

Chef's Notes

  • If you want to prepare this recipe without oil, simply toast the pumpkin seeds and chile guajillo until golden brown in a cast iron pan. Remove from pan then, char the onion and cook the garlic until golden brown.
  • You can add zucchini blossoms, fava beans or Green beans to add more variety and texture to the dish.
  • If you think sweet potato is too sweet you can use potato instead
  • The sauce is not very spicy since it uses only guajillo chiles, but if you do want it spicy you can add 1-2 serrano chiles.
  • For a deeper smoky flavor, you can roast the tomato on a cast iron pan or under your oven broiler until it has black spots all over, then add it to the blender.
  • The recipe calls for fresh corn, but since corn in the US is so much sweeter than Mexican corn, to make this recipe more authentic tasting use ½ fresh corn and ½ fresh masa. If you do use masa, let the sauce simmer for 15 min.
Nutrition Facts
Atapakua - Mexican Vegetable Stew
Amount Per Serving
Calories 247 Calories from Fat 36
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 4g 6%
Sodium 75mg 3%
Potassium 1473mg 42%
Total Carbohydrates 47g 16%
Dietary Fiber 10g 40%
Sugars 17g
Protein 11g 22%
Vitamin A 235.7%
Vitamin C 56.1%
Calcium 7.6%
Iron 18.1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

 

 

 

 

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