Recipe: Mole Sauce, or something, with I only wish I knew what it goes with, other than bemusement

tomatilloSo I got these tomatilloes at the market, and a whole big box of peppers and chillis and then I had this black chocolate and I had pumpkin seed meal, and all of this pretty much said ‘Mexican’ to me, but there’s a problem – I really don’t know thing one about Mexican cooking.  I’m sort of aware of flavours that go together, but not how to make them do so, or anything like that.

When in doubt, I roast things, so I did that with the vegetables, and then stared at it all in confusion for a while, before sticking everything in a blender with a bunch of extra spices and  other bits and pieces.  It tasted pretty much as I imagine mole sauce is supposed to taste – spicy and chocolatey and dense – but then I didn’t know what to put it on.  I wound up roasting some zucchini and pumpkin and stirring the mole through that, and then I didn’t know what to put *that* on.  Rice?  Corn chips? Tortillas?  And what about protein?  And – argh.  I don’t know.  I still don’t know.  Something tells me it would be excellent on chicken, which is a fat lot of good to me right now. 

Anyway, I do know that it’s a tasty sauce – fresh-tasting and bitter and chocolatey and aromatic and peppery-hot – so I’m writing it up here just as a sauce, and maybe one of you will be able to figure out what it’s for…

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6 tomatillos
4 small tomatoes
2 chillis (one red and one green is fun)
3 small round peppers
3 capsicums, assorted colours
5 long frying peppers, also sometimes called sweet chillis, assorted colours
1 bulb garlic
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
50 g pumpkin seed meal, or pumpkin seeds, toasted and then ground
40 g black chocolate – 99% cocoa, so the really bitter stuff – chopped
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp chipotle pepper
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp thyme
salt, to taste

Now what will you do with it?

If only I knew…

Stare at everything in bemusement for a while, knowing that these flavours go together, but really not how.  Then shrug in a fatalistic manner, pull out a baking tin, and set the oven to 200°C.

Halve the chillis lengthwise and take out the seeds.  Do the same with the sweet chillis.  Halve the tomatoes and quarter the tomatilloes.  Slice the capsicums into three or four flat sides and then halve the sides.  Deal with the round peppers however you feel is best, but again, you want the seeds and stems out, and large chunks.  Put all of this lot into a baking tin.  Slice the top off the garlic, pour a little extra oil over it, and wrap it in foil.  Put it into the same baking tin.  Drizzle over the oil, and sprinkle with oregano and cumin.  Roast for about half an hour, or until everything except the garlic is soft.

Incidentally, this all looked really pretty, but I was feeling so confused by the whole business that I forgot to take photos.  Sorry.

Here, have a photo of peppers and chillis instead.

Here, have a photo of peppers and chillis instead.

Put the garlic back in the oven, while you stare despairingly at the roasted vegetables, which smell quite a lot like chilli, but are not providing further inspiration.  Decide that putting them in the blender with all the other ingredients can’t hurt.  Do so.  Add a bit of salt, and the roasted garlic when it’s ready, and puree again.

You have now turned all those pretty, colourful vegetables into ugly sludge.  But it’s tasty ugly sludge, so you blog about it anyway, while you wait for the pumpkins to roast and try to figure out what on earth to put with them.

Maybe you should have stuck to chocolate cake for dinner.  Or made more of an effort to find a recipe.

(Nah, that’s crazy talk…)

(Well, not the bit about the chocolate cake)

Most un-photogenic meal ever.  This is mole sauce over pumpkin, zucchini and cannelini beans, with corn chips.  It tastes quite good, but its appearance is a trifle depressing.

Most un-photogenic meal ever. This is mole sauce over pumpkin, zucchini and cannelini beans, with corn chips. It tastes quite good, but its appearance is a trifle depressing.


Well, you could always start by knowing what you are doing.  That would have been my choice, frankly.

I’m sorry, I really don’t know what the variations are, because I really don’t know what I’ve created.  Maybe you can tell me?


This time last year…


Farmers’ Market: Autumn Equinox


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6 comments for “Recipe: Mole Sauce, or something, with I only wish I knew what it goes with, other than bemusement

  1. Paul Duncanson
    March 25, 2013 at 10:01 pm

    I cannot claim to be an expert on Mexican food but the last time I ate a sauce like this it was with chicken – a dish called Pollo en Mole Poblano. When Lent is done, you could do worse things than investigate it.

    • Catherine
      March 26, 2013 at 9:42 am

      Thank you! Also, aha, because, at one point during the whole chaotic process (there was a lot of flailing) I went out and wailed to Andrew that the problem was that I was positive this sauce wanted to go with chicken, and I couldn’t eat chicken (and don’t know tofu well enough to get the right sort of texture / flavour out of it)! It’s nice to know that my instincts were heading in the right direction…

  2. Pamela Dean
    March 26, 2013 at 4:12 am

    Black bean and sweet potato (or squash or pumpkin if they are sweetish) enchiladas with mole sauce rather than regular enchilada sauce? That just means wrapping the bean and sweet potato mixture in soft corn tortillas. I’ve only had this when other people made it, but I think the filling was just the beans and sweet potatoes with some garlic and salt and pepper.

    I have never seen any dish with mole sauce that looked attractive. It’s just not. But it’s very, very tasty. One could disguise it with a topping of guacamole or cheese.


    • Catherine
      March 26, 2013 at 9:44 am

      I really do need to stock up on black beans again (they aren’t all that readily available in Australia). That does sound like a nice recipe, thank you.

      And yes, I took a couple of photos of the mixture in the blender, and it looked so off-putting I couldn’t bring myself to post them! Nice to know that it’s supposed to look awful…


  3. March 26, 2013 at 8:47 pm

    This post is making me laugh, a lot!, not least because that’s exactly the sort of predicament I’m liable to find myself in. At the same time, if you have a sauce that sounds as good as this one, I say put it with whatever you can, whenever you can 🙂

    • Catherine
      March 26, 2013 at 10:35 pm

      Yes, I get the feeling we approach the kitchen in quite similar ways. A side effect of medical research, perhaps?

      I think, if I hadn’t felt so overwhelmed by the whole thing, I should have tried doing something with smoked tofu, to get that sort of meatiness that the sauce wanted to go with…

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