Epazote

native to: Mexico
in season here: summer

Also known as Mexican tea, wormseed, pigweed, erva-de-Santa Maria, and jesuit’s tea, epazote is commonly considered a weed. While it shows up in black bean recipes as a carminative (additive to reduce flatulence) and the young leaves can be added to soups, tamales, eggs, chilies, and moles, it is better known for its medicinal uses. The name comes from the Aztec epazotl, and the herb is used in traditional medicine, especially to expel hookworms (please be aware that epazote, and especially its oil, can be poisonous in large doses; expectant and nursing mothers should be particularly cautious).

Epazote is a member of the Amaranth family, related to spinach, quinoa, and beets. It has a strong flavor with a hint of petroleum and mint in its smell. While it has anti-oxidant properties and provides a variety of minerals, it is not usually used in large enough amounts for this to have much significance. It is more commonly used as a 4-8 oz. decoction against worms and as a remedy for indigestion, stomach cramps, and ulcers (again, get advice before trying this on people or even pets). There are indications it may have some anti-diabetic properties and could be helpful against liver cirrhosis, cancer, and respiratory problems.

Read more:
label-style nutrition information for raw epazote
discussion of medicinal and culinary uses at Nutrition and You, with recipe links
health benefits from Organic Facts
medical uses from Raintree Tropical Plant Database
recipes from Yummly

Versión en español: this post is also available in Spanish.
Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.

Frijoles de la olla

(home-cooked beans)

1 lb black beans
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, coarsely diced
2 sprigs fresh epazote, or 2 Tbsp dried
2 1/2 qt. water (or part water, part vegetable stock)
1-2 tsp salt, or to taste

Pick over beans, place in a large bowl, cover by at least two inches with cold water, and let soak overnight.

Drain beans and place in a large stock pot with oil, onion and epazote. Add water and bring to a boil. Simmer, partially covered, until the beans are tender, 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours, depending on the freshness of the beans. Skim off foam as necessary and add water if the mixture becomes too thick. When the beans are tender, add salt to taste and simmer for a few minutes. If using fresh epazote, remove the sprigs before serving.

Can be frozen or used in rice and beans or burrito filling; for black bean soup, puree beans, flavor with cumin to taste, and add vegetable stock.

Makes 7 cups.

Adapted from The Perfect Pantry

Versión en español: this post is also available in Spanish.
Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.

Mexican Eggs with Epazote and Frijoles

1/3 cup finely diced onion
1 corn tortilla, finely diced
2 teaspoons butter, margarine or vegetable oil
1/4 cup green pepper, finely diced
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh epazote
1/2 cup cooked pinto beans, drained
4 large eggs beaten with 1 tablespoon water
2 ounces finely diced Queso Asadero or grated Monterey Jack cheese

Garnishes:
Salsa
Queso Cotija, crumbled or grated

Cook the onion and tortilla in the butter, stirring occasionally, over medium high heat until the onion is soft, about 2 minutes. Add pepper and cook another minute, until warm but still crunchy. Stir in the epazote and beans and cook about 1 minute, until the beans are warmed through and the epazote is cooked. Reduce heat to medium and pour in the beaten egg. Cook as if making scrambled eggs until the eggs are set. Just before the eggs are done, stir in the cheese.

Serve with fresh salsa and grated or crumbled queso cotija.

Adapted from Kate’s Global Kitchen

Versión en español: this post is also available in Spanish.
Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.