I wonder how many of us have cookbooks that have been kicking around for years, allowed to languish with the dependable standards, all for one perfect recipe. That's the case with Martha Stewart's Healthy Quick Cook, a book which ended up in my collection for free after I bought the requisite cartons of orange juice many years ago. It's full of recipes for nice enough meals based mostly meat and shellfish. I can't remember making anything out of this book other than posole but I've made that many, many times and served it to I don't know how many appreciative eaters. For this one recipe, the book stays on my cookbook shelf.Posole is a traditional Mexican/New Mexican dish with a long history. There are numerous versions of the stew, most of which include pork. One constant ingredient is hominy which makes the dish hearty and filling and adds a lovely flavor and body. This is a delicious vegetarian version which is rich and spicy and full of flavor though you could certainly use chicken or turkey stock. The base is a cumin-scented, oniony broth filled out with hominy, diced tomatilos, and finely sliced Swiss chard.
Because it's served with a variety of garnishes, diners can customize their bowls to taste. I usually put out small bowls filled with chopped cilantro, minced chiles, avocado chunks, sour cream, crumbled cotija cheese, and lime wedges. I find that my children love any sort of meal with lots of options so I make the stew itself fairly mild, let them load up on avocados and cheese, and add lots of minced serrano chiles and lime juice to my own bowl to get things where I like them. Something about the vitamin rich chard and tomatillos always makes me think of this as a restorative tonic, but it may just be the contrast of the rich warm broth and all the bright add-in flavors at the end. It's a pick-me-up for sure, perfect to bring to a sick friend, and just the thing for a rainy day.
I have a bit of a curse going on with this recipe. I always manage to forget one of the key ingredients. And yesterday was no exception though lunch was saved by the lovely Elizabeth who went traipsing about looking for tomatillos. It seems the tomatillo truck didn't make it to Portland this week. What she found after hitting two stores were some decidedly puny specimens, but I used them nonetheless as they are a key component and I was desperate. This was certainly not my best ever batch of posole but it was enjoyed by everyone and there was barely a bowl leftover for today's lunch. Give this simple dish a try. You'll be glad you did. The recipe is here.