Mole—rhymes with “ole!”—wears its Aztec roots with pride. Deep, thick, and mysterious, a good mole adds rich darkness to the simplest bowl of rice and beans. There is, however, not a simple way to make mole, though this recipe, adapted from a recipe by Margaret Shakespeare*, is close. If you get all the ingredients out ahead of time…
….you can pretty easily get your mole on while everything else cooks.
That, by the way, shows the chocolate before it melts. The chocolate is what gives mole its color and hard to pin down flavor.
I made this one vegan, relying on my old favorite cauliflower yet again. I’m not sure where I’d be without cauliflower. You’ve probably noticed I go through at least one a week.
Anyway, the mole will hold up and, if you eat meat, will beautifully complement chicken, steak, or a robust seafood like scallops, shrimp, or cod—something that will hold up but that doesn’t have too distinctive of a flavor on its own. Salmon, in other words, is out. Fresh tuna…hmmm. Maybe, but I haven’t tried it, so you’re on your own.
Meanwhile, I turn once again to the awesome rice/quinoa mix put together by Seeds of Change, which we buy in 6-packs at Costco and that I go through about as often as I do cauliflower. You could also, of course, use your own cooked brown rice, quinoa, or your own blend of pretty much any grain you like.
Have fun with your toppings. I had a mango on hand, but apricots are in season right now and they would likely be pretty great. And I opted for sliced avocado so the mole could star. But if you don’t mind a crowded flavor party, throw a little guacamole on there and the two great Mexican creations can duke it out. Just be sure to have some fresh crunchy Romaine. Enjoy.
Baja Mole Bowl
Preheat oven to 400º. Toss cauliflower florets in bowl with oil and spice mix. Spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Place in oven, setting timer for 20 minutes. Stir cauliflower, and roast an additional 10-15 minutes, until browned and soft.
While cauliflower cooks, make the mole sauce: Boil the broth. Place raisins in small bowl, and pour 2 tablespoons of the boiling broth over them.
Grind the almonds in a coffee grinder or food processor. Heat the peanut oil in a flat-bottomed skillet over medium high heat. Tear up the tortilla in smallish pieces and add to oil. Add ground almonds and sesame seeds and reduce heat to medium; stir until brown, approximately 4 minutes.
Scrape almond mixture into a blender along with 1/4 cup of the hot broth. Process on low to medium speed; as motor runs, add chili powder, paprika and cayenne, then the raisins, chopped onions and garlic, and tomato puree. Slowly add remaining stock, then process on high. Pour back into pan on the stove and heat over low-medium heat. Add chocolate, extracts, and cinnamon and cloves. Stir to melt chocolate, and continue to cook over low-medium heat.
Heat peanut oil in flat-bottomed skillet over medium high heat. Add onions, and cook 4 minutes, until they begin to be translucent and golden around the edges. Add peppers, and cook 4 minutes more. Stir in rice mix or rice and black beans. Add 2 tablespoons of broth. Stir until completely absorbed.
Assemble bowl: Make a bed of rice mix and cauliflower. Scoop 1/4 to 1/3 cup of mole sauce over the bowl. Top with shredded lettuce, chopped mango, and avocado slices.
Mole sauce inspired by a recipe from Margaret Shakespeare in Great Meals in Minutes: Mexican Meals, Time-Life Books, 1984.