Chulibul: Green beans in corn sauce with pumpkin seeds
Excerpted from “TREASURES OF THE MEXICAN TABLE: Classic Recipes, Local Secrets” © 2021 by Pati Jinich. Reproduced by permission of Mariner Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
This Mayan vegetable dish is a dream, and it comes together quickly. Green beans are cooked in a creamy fresh corn and epazote puree, topped with a chunky, spicy cooked tomato salsa, and garnished with pumpkin seeds. It comes from Campeche, in the Yucatán Peninsula. There, chulibul is often prepared more like a soup, with the green beans boiled and the rest of the ingredients stirred in. But searing the beans quickly in oil before finishing the cooking in the pureed corn preserves their crisp texture and bright flavor. Serve chulibul as the centerpiece of a vegetarian meal or as a side.
1⁄2 cup raw hulled pumpkin seeds (see note)
1 1⁄4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup fresh corn kernels (from 1 large ear)
1 cup water
3 to 4 fresh sprigs epazote or cilantro
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound green beans, trimmed
1⁄2 cup finely chopped white onion
1 fresh habanero, serrano, or jalapeno chile, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 pound ripe tomatoes, chopped, or 1 (15-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
Heat a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add the pumpkin seeds and toast until they are lightly colored and starting to jump or pop, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool.
Transfer the pumpkin seeds to a food processor, add 1⁄4 teaspoon of the salt, and pulse until finely ground. Set aside.
Combine the fresh corn, water, and epazote or cilantro in a blender and puree until smooth.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high to high heat. Add the green beans, sprinkle with 1⁄2 teaspoon of the salt, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they begin to turn brighter green. Pour the pureed corn over the green beans, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring often so that the sauce doesn’t stick to the pan, until the beans are tender and the puree has reduced to a creamy, thick sauce.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a medium saucepan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and chile and cook until softened and starting to color, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until translucent, less than a minute. Add the tomatoes and the remaining 1⁄2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are softened and pasty, 5 to 8 minutes.
Scrape the beans with the corn sauce onto a platter. Top with the tomato salsa, garnish with the ground pumpkin seeds, and serve.
Cook’s Note ► You can substitute roasted salted pumpkin seeds for the raw ones, but don’t toast and salt them, just grind them.