Hispanic Heritage Month: Celebrate With Food

Happy Hispanic Heritage Month to all! There are many ways to celebrate this beautiful time of year that runs from September 15 – October 15, especially through food, music, and community gatherings. To identify as Hispanic or as having Hispanic roots can mean different things for different people. Some people identify as Hispanic through their ethnicity, race, ancestry, or culture (if you’re looking for something more definitive, check out this Pew Research Article). So, whether you identify as having Hispanic heritage or not, everyone can celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and what better way to commemorate the month than by enjoying some delicious food! 

This blog highlights a San Rafael Salvadorian restaurant located near the Civic Center Library, Pupuseria Blankita. The restaurant offers pupusas, tamales, empanadas, and so much more!  Founder, owner, and head-chef Blankita shared her delicioius Spinach and Cheese Pupusa with us and it's below for anyone who wants to try to make this amazing dish!  

Her restaurant has 5-star ratings on Yelp and Google and rightfully so! If you’re wondering why these pupusas are so good, it might be because of how they came to exist. Born in El Salvador, Blankita was the oldest of 5 children and after her parents separated and her mother fell ill, it was up to her to figure out how to feed herself, her mom, and her younger siblings. After days without food, Blankita borrowed what little money she could, went to her local grocery store and created her first pupusas. Those pupusas not only fed her family but they also fed nearby workers. Word spread and soon every worker in town was asking for Blankita’s Pupusas. Blankita made her way to the San Francisco Bay Area and after years of working and saving money, in addition to receiving financial support from an investor, she finally opened her own restaurant.   

Blankita shared that when her mother tasted her first pupusas, her mom gave her a hug for the first time, and for the last. So, if you get a chance to make her recipe, I hope each bite feels like a warm hug.  

Recipe for Blankita’s Spinach + Cheese Pupusas
3 ½ cups of Masa Flour (instant corn masa flour)
½ lb Fresh Spinach
1¼  cups of water
1 tsp salt
3 cups of Shredded Cheese   

Add your masa flour and salt to a large bowl. Set it aside. In a blender, combine the water with the spinach and blend until fully mixed. Add your blended spinach to the masa flour and knead until you reach a clay-like texture with your masa. Add additional flour or water as needed. Start forming 2-ounce balls (the size of a golf ball) with your masa until no masa is left.

Once all your masa balls are formed, flatten your balls so they resemble disks that are about ¼ inch thick. Add a tablespoon or so of cheese to your flattened disk and then fold over the masa to create a stuffed, half-moon shape. Fold the edges of the half-moon in to create another ball. Flatten the ball with your hands until the disk is ½ inch thick. Repeat with the remaining masa balls.  

To cook the dough, set a pan or cast-iron skillet on your stovetop over medium high heat, lightly coated with olive oil.  Add a pupusa to your pan and cook each side for 3-4 minutes. Flip over with a spatula when you notice browning. Cook the remaining pupusas and enjoy with your favorite salsa, some sour cream, or a fresh salad. 

*Tip: dipping your hands in an olive oil + water mixture will help prevent the masa dough from sticking to your hands. 

Additional Resources  
Enjoyed making pupusas? Check out these books written by Hispanic authors and keep the food coming!

Mi Cocina, Diasporican, The Latin Table

Content contributed by Daniela Leyva