I have included everything that is vegetarian in this category. In the future, I may separate this into more sub-categories. If you can't find something you are looking for, use the search form.

Auyama  is a  yellow-green pumpkin with very deep yellow flesh, used extensively throughout the West Indies. It is  usually sold by the wedge. Use instead of potato or in soups. The flowers are also edible. Mexicans fix calabaza flower quesadillas, which are small tortillas filled with sauteed flowers and cheese, then deep fried. Clean the wedge by removing the seeds and spaghetti-looking stuff from center, and refrigerate so the auyama lasts longer. You may substitute other squash for the auyama in these recipes. 

Ingredients

1 3/4 lbs. auyama,  previously boiled or steamed until tender
2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon butter
1/3 cup flour
1 egg

Preparation

Mash auyama Add butter, sugar and egg. Sift flour over the auyama mixture. Mix well. If the mixture is a bit dry, add 1 or 2 tablespoons milk. Spoon mixture into very hot oil and fry until cooked. Drain on paper towels. Serve.

The Avocado is the fruit of a beautiful tree native to Central America. The fruit comes in many shapes. The different variations have diverse skins and colors, ranging from the common avocado green to very dark purple, and from smooth to very bumpy skin. The meat is yellow and soft when ripe. Inside there is a single pit. When choosing a Florida avocado look for an avocado that rattles when shaken; this means that the pit is loose and it was picked at the right time and will ripen nicely.  If this is not possible, then make sure they have no bruises...That goes for all the variations.The small Hass avocados are wonderful, but you have to pick them before they turn black to guarantee they didn't get bruised. The seed won't ever rattle on these since they are always picked green.

Test for softness. It should feel soft to the touch but should not yield. To prevent an avocado from turning black after you cut it, leave the pit with the meat until ready to serve and sprinkle with lime juice. This also helps to diminish its tendency to cause gas.

Ingredients

Large ripe Avocados
3 tablespoon lime juice
2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon finely chopped onion
Fresh cilantro to taste
1 clove garlic, crushed
½ large tomato finely diced
½ teaspoon olive oil (optional)
1 jalapeño pepper, remove the seeds (optional)

Preparation

Mash avocados with silver fork. Add all ingredients. Serve with tortilla chips. (Hint: to keep dip from turning dark keep pits in dip until serving time.)

These were my favorites when I was a kid, along with fried yucca. They are sweet but not too much, and not like the Sweet potato fried that are now popular. They are not made with yams.

Preparation

Slice Batatas about 1/4 inch thick. Fry in hot oil until golden. Sprinkle with salt and paprika. Serve.

Rice and Beans are the daily staple of the Dominican Republic. So much they call it the Dominican Flag. Dominicans eat rice and beans every day. The color of the beans changes, but the dish is always the same.  The main flavoring is the recaito that is used in most Dominican cooking. Whether you use dry or canned beans, they are still always welcome at the table in our house. Taco night happens once a week. I make a very large pot  of beans so we have left overs. We then have tacos for lunch or dinner the next couple of nights.

There are many varieties of beans.  The following recipe may be used for most. You can make the same dish with dry beans but it is just as tasty using canned beans. If you use canned beans add the tomato paste towards the end of cooking so it doesn't stick to the pot.

Cabbage is a major staple of Dominican cuisine. There are many dishes made from, or including cabbage. My mother's step-mother was Syrian/Lebanese/Dominican and my mother grew up eating wonderful middle-eastern dishes, which in turn she cooked for us.  We ate cabbage almost every day growing up in salads, boiled then served with butter and Parmesan, and stuffed rolls, one of my favorites. The recipe follows.

I eat a lot of carrots. They are very good for you and they are so tasty. I like them just steamed, or sautéed in butter, or in any way.

Tayota is a tropical squash originally from Mexico, but now grown in most tropical regions of the world. The skin is green and prickly. The texture of the meat is similar to that of the summer squash and has an edible seed in the center. It can be stuffed, boiled and served hot as a squash, or cold in salads. There  Mexican has little thorns on the outside while the Caribbean variety is smooth. But I believe they are both identical cooked. Mexicans eat the vine flowers as well.

Corn is a staple in most of the world. It is a simple grain and yet, the amount of things you can do with corn are endless. From corn bread, to tortillas, to corn on the cob, corn is always good and always welcome. I live in Central Florida, the home of Siver Queen  and the Zellwood Corn Festival. We are just spoiled. At the height of the season you can buy corn for nothing on the side of the road.  Silver queen is the most delicious corn I have ever had. It is out of this world.

Eggplants are believed to be originally from India, but have been cultivated all over the world for eons. Caribbean eggplant (Graffiti Eggplant) is slightly different from the eggplant usually available in the USA. They are smaller and teardrop shaped. The skin is a dark mauve, shinny, with white specks forming stripes. The inner flesh is cream to pale white and has small, edible seeds. They are tender and smooth with a sweet and slightly fruity flavor when cooked.

Eggplant must be covered with salt-water for about ½ hour before cooking to remove the bitter flavor You can also cut them or slice them and sprinkle with a lot of salt and leave them for about 20 minutes to leach out the bitterness.

We eat them as fritters, in souffle, stewed, or as party dip, but there are literally, thousands of recipes. They are a great source of protein.

Ingredients

1 large eggplant

1 medium onion, chopped

1 medium pepper, chopped

About 5 capers

About 1 teaspoon cilantro

2 tablespoons tomato paste

Salt pork, bacon or ham to taste (optional)

Salt & pepper to taste

About 2 tablespoons coconut, olive or peanut oil

About 1 tablespoon recaíto (recipe)

Preparation

Peel and cut eggplant into 1 inch cubes. Place in salted water for about 30 minutes. Remove and drain on paper towels.
 Saute onions, peppers, capers, ham and recaíto until done. Add eggplant and cook for about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and ½ cup water. Cook stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes or until it has the consistency of chutney. Serve hot as an entree or cold with Melba toast as a dip.

Ingredients:

1 stewed eggplant

2 eggs separated

½ cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese

¼  cup Parmesan cheese

Preparation:

Stew eggplant as directed but without the ham. Remove from heat.

Place in food processor or mixer and mash. Add egg yolks and cheeses. Beat egg whites until dry and fold, very gently. The idea is to let the egg whites fill the mixture with air bubbles. If you mix it in or stir it in, it breaks up the bubbles and the souffle never rises.

Pour onto oiled or buttered souffle dish and bake for about 20 minutes at 350°F. or until it rises and top is golden. Take out carefully so that the souffle doesn't cave in. 

Serve as soon as possible.

Ñame is a very starchy root widely used throughout the Caribbean. It is the real Yam. It has rough brown skin and white flesh. Can be used as a potato, although it has a more fibrous texture. Peel with a potato peeler, cut into pieces and boil, in salted water, as you would a potato. Eat with butter and Parmesan or mash with milk, butter, salt and pepper.  Not to be confused with the sweet yams candied at Thanksgivings, they belong to two different families.

 

Ranging from sweet to very hot, peppers are an essential part of Latin American cuisine. Native to Mexico, the pepper has spread widely all over the world. Cubanelle peppers are used in the making of Escabeche. Hot peppers are crushed and used in foods, or bottled in vinegar or sherry to make hot sauce used on beef, pork, Mofongo (a plantain dish), goat, pork, etc.

Pigeon peas are used in the same manner as beans. They are available in most Latin American food stores. To prepare follow recipe for black beans.

Ripe plantains can be peeled as easily as bananas. But the green ones require special handling, since the thick skin clings to the fruit and tends to break off in little pieces. There are a few techniques for achieving this. one is to score the plantain along the seams lengthwise.

Plantain flour is used in babies formula for diarrhea.  Green, boiled plantains are a great remedy for hangovers. Plantains can be prepared in a thousand and one ways. They are one of the main staples of the islands.

Rice is a major staple in the whole world. In the Dominican Republic it is eaten every day of the week. Whether with beans, in chicken and rice, stuffed cabbage, alone with butter and Parmesan, or rice pudding, rice is always welcome at the table. It has gotten a bad rap in the last few years because of the carbs, but there are many different kinds of rice to choose from. Brown rice makes great fried rice with vegetables or curry. Wild rice is one of my favorites.

Batata is originally from tropical America. The sweet potato should not be confused with sweet yams, since they are not even related. They are also not as sweet. There are two varieties, one which has yellowish meat and is the sweeter of the two, and the other which has brownish or pink skin and a meat which ranges from white to purplish, and is not as sweet. Peel with a potato peeler and use in recipes. One of the easiest ways to cook it is to wrap in foil and bake for about 45 minutes. Or place in microwave for about 8 minutes. Serve with butter.

TIP: if you are not ready to use sweet potato right after cutting it, place in cold water until use to prevent them from turning black.

Sweet potatoes are rich in carbohydrates, vitamin A and C, calcium, and iron.

 

 

Yautía or Malanga is the root of an Elephant Ear plant eaten in most of the Caribbean and in Hawaii. The roots which have rough brown shin and flesh ranging from white to grayish white can be used as potatoes. Peel, boil in salted water and eat. Mash like potatoes adding milk, butter, salt and pepper to taste. Or slice very thin and deep fry to make chips.

 

ARAÑITAS or AREPITAS DE YUCA (Yuca spiders)

Ingredients:

1/2 lb yuca, peeled and grated in the larger side of the grater for arañitas, or the smaller for arepitas.
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons anise seeds
1 egg
oil for frying. I like peanut oil but you can use the ones you like. 

Yuca (Cassaba, Kasava) is the tuber root of a tropical plant brought from South America by the Arawaks. On their journey up the Caribbean islands, they brought the roots with them to cultivate in their new settlements. Tapioca and cassareb are both made from Cassava. There are two varieties of the plant, bitter and sweet. Bitter Cassava is poisonous until cooked and is used mainly to make a tort called “Casabe”, which looks like a thick tortilla and was the staple of the Taíno Indians (native Americans inhabiting Hispaniola at the time of Columbus' arrival). This simple meal made the conquest of America possible.

The sweet kind is the one usually sold in the US and may be purchased in some supermarkets and most Latin food stores. The Taino Yuca God was their most powerful deity.

Ingredients:

About 2 pounds yuca
Milk, butter, salt and pepper to taste (it is hard to say how much because it depends on the yuca and how much milk it will take.
1 pound Monterrey Jack, or Havarti cheese
2 eggs, separated

Preparation:

Follow instructions for mashed yuca. When mashed, add milk, butter, and pepper. Add grated cheese. Beat in egg yolks.