Oaxaca + Late Summer Feast + Nightshade Free Menu

This is a collection of Oaxaca cuisine inspired recipes, free of nightshades for those who’ve been missing out on some of their favorite traditional dishes due to this allergy. I hear similar stories of a longing for Italian food for the same reasons… additionally this menu features the use of the last of late July & all of August’s seasonal ingredients, before fall harvest begins.

The nightshade family includes: tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant or aubergines, cayenne peppers, chili peppers- bell, pimento, paprika, jalapeño, serrano, poblano, sweet peppers, tabasco, scotch bonnet, habarnero, aji, manzano, tomatillo and tree tomato. This plant family obviously includes several of the world’s most popular vegetables, fruits and spices, as well as tobacco.

All nightshades are high in bitter alkaloids, chemical substances with very strong physiological effects. The chemical defense of these plants has greatly reduced over generations of selective breeding. However, their leaves still have the potential to be toxic, and to someone managing a nightshade allergy (often times hereditary) it’s best to avoid this plant family all together on account of the inflammation experienced.

Does this mean you have to give up your love of spicy, pungent foods for good? Not at all! There are plenty of alternatives where one can still experience the spiciness and celebration of life that comes with the respect and appreciation of Oaxacan culture, traditional/seasonal ingredients and a deeply nourishing cuisine.

Today’s Menu

Sautéed Epazote Shrimp and Squash Blossom 

Corn Tortilla

Black Bean Sauce

Peach and cucumber Salsa

Sautéed Epazote Shrimp and Squash Blossom 

This dish conjures up both sweet and spicy with that signature nostalgic taste of Mexican cuisine 

1 Tablespoon of coconut oil

1 Onion small chopped

4 Cloves of garlic minced

16 Medium size shrimp (4 in each serving)

1 1/2  Teaspoons of cumin

1 Teaspoon of cinnamon

1/4 Teaspoon of ground clove

1/2 Teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

1-2 Teaspoons of sea salt

1-2 Teaspoons of black or white peppercorn freshly ground

20 Fresh squash blossoms

8 Garlic scapes left whole

2 Zucchini medium chopped

4 Tablespoons of chopped epazote leaf

1-2 Cups of fresh mizuna leaf


1. Bring a cast iron skillet to hot and then add oil, onions and garlic. Sauté for 3 minutes until the aroma of onions is in the air.

2. Rinse and peel your shrimp and add it to the skillet as well as your spices. Sauté for 5-7 minutes

3. Bring heat down to medium and add your squash blossoms, zucchini, garlic scapes and fresh epazote. Cover skillet and steam for about 5-7 minutes.

4. Turn heat of completely and toss together with fresh mizuna leaf.

Prep Time: 35 MINUTES

Serves: 4-5 

Corn Tortilla 

Quick tortilla recipes tend to be the same across the board, usually calling for water to mix the masa. However, if chicken or pork broth is used in place of water, a rich and savory flavor will be highlighted. Using a touch of lime gives the masa a lighter taste keeping it from becoming too salty to some pallets.


2 Cups Masa Flour

1 1/2 Tablespoons of corn oil

Juice from one lime

1 Teaspoon of sea salt

1 1/2- 2 cups of hot chicken broth or water (I like to use chicken broth. That way I can use left over masa for small batch tamales if I have time).


  1. In a mixing bowl combined the masa, oil, lime, salt and water
  2. Begin mixing with a spoon until you get a nice, even, thick consistency
  3. If you don’t have a tortilla press, you can still press out tortillas by hand. take a small golf ball size amount of masa into your hands and roll into a ball shape. place a ziplock sandwich bag down and then place the masa ball on top of it. place another ziplock bag on top of that and roll out masa to a small pancake size shape around 6 inches.
  4. By placing the masa in between to ziplock bags as you roll out the tortillas, you will prevent them from sticking to the surface of your counter and tearing apart.
  5. Bring a skillet to high heat and then add a dash of corn oil.
  6. Place tortillas in skillet 2 at a time. They should be able to slide around the pan with out sticking. Flip them and then pull them after about two minutes.
  7. You can wrap the cooked tortillas in a kitchen linen and set aside to stay warm or place on a plate with a slightly raised (not flat) pan lid.

Prep Time: 40 MINUTES

Serves: 4-5 (with leftovers, store in fridge, will keep for 5-7 days)

Black Bean Sauce

Although this recipe is a “black bean sauce” an important ingredient to take a closer look at, is the radish. In Oaxaca culture the radish plays a symbolic role. It has become tradition to carve radish into depictions of nativity or biblical reference as well as political or social expression and protest. They have also been carved for celebrations in honor of certain festivals.


2 Cups of black beans

2- 3 Early scarlet globe radishes (as garnish)

2-3 Cups of chicken, pork or vegetable broth

3 Tablespoons of minced garlic

3 Tablespoons of minced shallots

1 1/2 Teaspoons of cumin powder

1 Teaspoon of raw mayan cacao powder

1 Teaspoon of sea salt

1 Teaspoon of fresh ground pink peppercorn

1/3 Cup of fresh cilantro diced

1 Scallion diced (as garnish)


  1. Start by soaking your black beans for 8 hours. When ready, drain soaking water and give them a rinse.
  2. Thinly slice your radishes and set in the fridge until the plating of this dish.
  3. In a large cast iron pan bring your broth, garlic, shallots and spices to a simmer.
  4. Add your black beans and keep simmering for 60 minutes.
  5. After 60 minutes add most of your cilantro (save a little for garnish) and stir in to simmer It for 2 minutes.
  6. Turn heat off and pour black beans into a tall, cylindrical container. Use an immersion blender to puree the black beans in broth. You want a very smooth sauce with out clumps.
  7. To serve this dish you would fold the tortillas in half and pour the sauce over them (about 4 tablespoons worth over 2 tortillas.
  8. Garnish with a scallion a few slices of radish and cilantro. Top of with more fresh ground pick peppercorn. (the pink peppercorn is a nice touch with the radish for a pop of color).

Prep Time: 30 MINUTES

Standing Time: 8 Hours

Serves: 4-5

Peach and cucumber Salsa

 Sweet and cooling, while still being spicy! Traditional salsa is made with tomato, which is a fruit as you probably know. Tomato is a fun ingredient to attempt to find substitutions for. I credit this to its versatility to go sweet or savory.

Often times we can use substitutions that would seem unlikely yet turn out to be amazing! In the case of a nightshade sensitivity, you can still prepare a spicy salsa with the same chunky fruit and vegetable texture. The trick is finding a good base fruit. In this recipe I’m using peach. You might also try mango, pineapple, cantaloupe, watermelon, strawberries or orange! 


(You will want a food processor for this prep if you can)

Juice from two limes

4-6 Cloves of garlic

1/2 Teaspoon of ginger

1 Walla Walla onion quarter cut

2 Teaspoons of cumin

1 Teaspoon of dried oregano

sea salt to taste (around 2 teaspoons)

2 Teaspoons of fresh ground pepper

1 Jicama quarter cut

4 Harbelle peaches cut in half and pit removed, then quarter cut (save half of one peach and medium chop)

3-4 Genoa figs cut in half

1 Cucumber partially peeled and small chopped

1/2 Cup of fresh cilantro stems removed, using only the leaf

3-4 Teaspoons of apple cider vinegar


  1. The trick with this salsa is maintaining the chunky texture without over processing. Start by adding your lime juice, garlic, ginger, onion and spices and then pulse chop in the food processor.
  2. Next, add jicama and process once or twice on the chop setting. Then add peach and do the same.
  3. Next add fig and pulse chop once or twice.
  4. Remove salsa from processor into a large mixing bowl. With a silicon spatula, stir in the the remaining chopped peach, cucumber, cilantro and apple cider vinegar.
  5. Salt and pepper more to taste.

Prep Time: 30 MINUTES

Serves: 6 (store in fridge, will keep for a week)

Culinary & Western Nutrition Information: Shrimp/crustaceans go back to prehistoric times. Around 200 million years ago, primitive shrimp existed and today there lives more than 38,000 varieties of crustaceans! Shrimps flavor will quickly decline in a few days on ice due to the loss of amino acids, but they can remain edible up to 14 days. Shrimpers often treat them with a bleaching solution of bisulfite (salt) to keep them from losing color. This can not only effect the flavor, it can also cause allergic reactions to those sensitive to sulfites, so being picky about the quality and freshness of the shrimp you consume is of great benefit. Interesting fact: corn masa is 10 times higher in Zinc than wheat flour. Radishes are excellent at stimulating appetite and as a digestive aid. Radishes are a good source of ascorbic & folic acid, potassium, vitamin B6, riboflavin, magnesium, copper and calcium. Onions have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, and antiviral properties and help remove parasites and heavy metals from the system. Garlic is used as a primary seasoning agent in nearly every cuisine around the world. A fascinating quality of garlic is that mashed, it is more potent then when sliced or chopped. Smashed garlic exposes more cells to oxygen which in turn release sulfides that oxidize when exposed to air. Keep in mind when cutting garlic, especially on a wood cutting board, it will forever smell like garlic, or at least transfer the garlic flavor to anything else prepped on that board for that meal. Peaches are high in vitamin A (especially darker ones) and vitamin C. Unlike many fruits peaches contain calcium.

Chinese Medicine (Food Energetics) Information: Shrimp are warm in temperature, sweet in flavor, route through the Kidneys, Liver, Spleen and Stomach. Shrimp tonifies Yang (the fire of the body) and Qi (energy). Shrimp promotes Blood circulation, counteracts Cold and resolves Phlegm. Corn masa is neutral in temperature, sweet in flavor, routes through the Kidneys, Large Intestine and the Stomach. Corn tonifies Qi and drains water. Black beans are warm in temperature, sour and sweet in flavor, route through the Heart, Kidneys, Small Intestine and the Spleen. Black beans tonify Yin (the water of the body) and Blood and they help drain water. Radish is cool in temperature, pungent and sweet in flavor, routes through the Lungs and the Stomach. Radish helps counteract Dampness in the body, resolve Phlegm, promotes Qi circulation, counteracts Heat and removes toxins. All of the spices used in these recipes are Yang supportive. Fresh garlic is hot in temperature, pungent, salty and sweet in flavor. Routes through the Heart, Liver, Lungs, Spleen and Small Intestine. Garlic helps drain Damp, resolve Phlegm, promote Qi circulation, reduces Wind Cold and removes toxins. Garlic too, promotes Yang (the warmth and fire within our bodies). Limes are cold in temperature, sour in flavor. They route through the Gallbladder, Liver, Kidneys, Lungs and Spleen. Lime promotes Blood circulation, Qi circulation, counteracts Heat, helps remove toxins from the system and resolves Phlegm. Peaches are warm in temperature, sour and sweet in flavor, route through the Liver, Lungs and Stomach. Peach tonifies Yin (the cooling, water of our bodies) and promotes Blood circulation, Qi circulation while also counteracting Cold.


The Oaxaca ‘people’s festival’ celebrates indigenous culture that’s not for sale

McGee, Harold. On Food And Cooking. The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. Revised and Updated. Scribner. New York City, NY. 2004.

Balch, Phyllis A., CNC. Prescription for Nutritional Healing. Fifth Edition. Penguin Group. London, England. 2010.

Wood, Rebecca. The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia. Penguin Books. NYC, NY. 2010.

Leggett, Daverick. Helping Ourselves. Meridian Press. Totnes, England. 2014.

Daverick, Jane. Drake, Victoria J. An Evidence-Based Approach to Vitamins and Minerals. 2nd Edition. Georg Thieme Verlag. Stuttgart, Germany. 2012.

© 2015, K. Crawford, Original Menu & Recipes

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