Meatless Monday: Zucchini tomato goulash
This hearty goulash creates a lively side dish or vegetarian meal.
You know how when you’re traveling and one of the locals asks where you’re from, then says wistfully, “Wow, I’ve always wanted to go there”? I didn’t get that once in Los Cabos. Not once. And I live in Chicago, a place I consider capable of generating a certain amount of destination envy.Skip to next paragraph
Terry Boyd is the author of Blue Kitchen, a Chicago-based food blog for home cooks. His simple, eclectic cooking focuses on fresh ingredients, big flavors and a cheerful willingness to borrow ideas and techniques from all over the world. A frequent contributor to the Chicago Sun-Times, his recipes have also appeared on the Bon Appétit and Saveur websites.
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My fellow travelers and I were guests of the Los Cabos Convention & Visitors Bureau. And while we were asked many times where we had come from to get there (besides Chicago, the answers included New York City, Los Angeles and Western Canada), our replies inspired little more than polite curiosity. No one seemed eager to leave this sunny, narrow strip of land with the Pacific on one side and the Sea of Cortés on the other.
Whether they’d been born in Los Cabos or had moved from Mexico’s mainland or other, more far-flung points around the globe, the waiters, hotel managers, drivers, restaurateurs, chefs, fishing boat captains and shop owners we spoke with all seemed to be precisely where they wanted to be. In the four days I spent there, I could see why.
Los Cabos (the capes) wraps around the southern tip of the peninsula. The region is mostly mountainous, rocky desert, quite beautiful (and to my Midwestern eyes, exotic) under the relentless sun and blue skies. And for all the heat (mid-90s during the day), the dry desert air and nearly constant ocean breezes keep things reasonably comfortable, especially in the shade. At night, the temperatures dip into the 60s, and jackets are encouraged. As a result, the lines between indoor and outdoor spaces are often blurred or obliterated – you flow seamlessly from one to another. I am a sucker for this use of space.
Our hotel, the newly opened Grand Solmar Land’s End Resort & Spa, is a perfect example. The spacious lobby area is open at both ends; the ocean breezes and sounds let you know you’re not cooped up inside as you sit around large, low tables in big, comfy chairs, sipping your check-in welcome drink. And there are no interior hallways, just covered outdoor walkways to take you to your suite.
But it wasn’t all refreshments and cool breezes. We were expected to work. Well, a little, at least. So one morning we made our way to Huerta Los Tamarindos, an organic farm operated by chef/restaurateur Enrique Silva. We trekked around the fields and then up to an 1880s brick ranch house that has been converted to an inviting, well-equipped demonstration kitchen. There we helped prepare our lunch. Turns out fellow Chicagoan Rick Bayless had recently cooked in this very kitchen, filming an upcoming episode for his PBS series, Mexico: One Plate at a Time, and impressing Chef Silva with his exhaustive knowledge of regional Mexican cuisine.
Chef Silva has a degree in agricultural engineering and, in fact, introduced himself to our group as an agricultural engineer and farmer, even though he is chef/partner at Tequila, one of the first fine-dining restaurants in San José Del Cabo. Silva’s love of agriculture along with the occasional lack of availability of fresh produce and herbs led him to create his own organic farm, just 10 minutes away from his restaurant. Huerta Los Tamarindos grows many herbs – basil, rosemary, sage, marjoram, thyme, chives and lemongrass – as well as heirloom tomatoes and eggplants. Silva’s organic produce is featured heavily on Tequila’s menu as well as at other top area restaurants. He also exports to the United States and Canada.