Epazote

Dysphania Ambrosioides

Also known as wormseed, Jesuit’s tea, and Mexican tea, epazote is a self-seeding herb that grows long, pointed leaves with jagged edges. Tasting of a cross between anise, lemon, and mint, epazote is commonly used in Mexican and Southwest cuisine. Epazote breaks out in greenish yellow flowers in late summer.

Throw a sprig or two of epazote into black beans, beef chili, or chicken mole. Stir it into posole and green chile stew, or add a sprig to a pan of sautéed corn and mushrooms. Epazote can be used dried or fresh, but fresh is more flavorful if you can get your hands on some!

Epazote has been used to control intestinal parasites in humans and in livestock.

Epazote is a hardy herb sometimes thought of as a weed because it is so resilient and spreads very easily. Plant seeds in a sunny patch of well-drained soil in late spring, and you will have epazote leaves ready for harvest in one and a half to two months. Pinch back the central tufts of leaves to prohibit flowering (and self-seeding) and to encourage a bushy growing pattern. Epazote will take over your garden so be vigilant about pinching off flowers and consider keeping your epazote in a container, pot, or enclosed flowerbed.

Epazote is often used in bean dishes because it helps prevent flatulence. But don’t use too much! Most dishes only call for a sprig or two of epazote because too much epazote oil can be poisonous. Epazote seeds should never be ingested, and pregnant women should not consume epazote.

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Yellow-eye Peas with Epazote

Yellow-Eye Peas with Epazote

Yellow eye peas, also known as dot-eye or molasses face beans, have a rich and meaty flavor similar to black-eyed peas. This yellow eye pea stew combines the fresh flavors of oregano and epazote, a natural digestive, with meaty andouille sausage and a rich, chicken and ham based broth. This is a stick-to-your-ribs stew that will keep you warm and satisfied in these last few wintery weeks.

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