Garza has collaborated with some of the nation’s most influential school districts and higher education institutions to develop and implement innovative plant-based meal programs. He recently published his first book, ¡Salud! Vegan Mexican Cookbook. We had the pleasure of asking him a few questions.
WOV: How did you get into cooking?
EG: I’ve been cooking for as long as I can remember. In ¡Salud! Vegan Mexican Cookbook, I talk about how it has always played a major role in my life. I spent the majority of my childhood in the kitchen with my amazing grandmother, Soledad, who taught me everything about Mexican cooking. From her, I learned how to make Mexican staples like beans a la charra and Mexican red rice to even more elaborate dishes like tamales and moles. In 2008 I made the leap from passionate home cook to pro at Spiral Diner & Bakery in Dallas, where I truly honed my skills and learned all about commercial foodservice. Since my days at Spiral, my culinary work has been exciting and varied – from conducting culinary trainings and ideations for major hospitals, restaurant groups and culinary schools to working as a plant-based TV chef for Spanish-language networks throughout the United States and Latin America.
WOV: You’ve personally experienced the incredible health benefits of a plant-based diet. Can you share more about your journey?
EG: I grew up in the South Texas border town of Brownsville on a diet high in meat, meat, and more meat. It was what we considered to be part of our norteño heritage, as many of the people in my hometown came from a lineage of ranching families from Northern Mexico. But like many others from my hometown, I struggled with serious weight problems from an early age, reaching a whopping 310 pounds by the time I was in my early 20s. In addition to constantly spraining my ankles—because my ankles simply couldn’t handle all that weight—I suffered from a laundry list of other weight-related health problems like hypertension, sleep apnea, and severe shortness of breath after any small movement. It was after I started transitioning to a plant-centric diet that I was able to naturally reverse my declining health.
WOV: ¡Salud! is such a gorgeous book with so many beautiful dishes. What’s your favorite Mexican recipe to prepare for the vegan inclined and die hard meat eater alike?
EG: ¡Salud! Vegan Mexican Cookbook is jam-packed with hearty and delicious recipes for every palate. To boot, more than half of the recipes are quick and easy to make! One favorite that has meat lovers begging for more at Garza brunch gatherings is Mollete, an open-faced breakfast sandwich loaded with refried black beans gooey vegan white cheese, then topped with a Garbanzorizo – my spin on traditional Mexican chorizo made with protein-packed garbanzos tossed in a blend of sautéed onions, garlic, sundried tomatoes and a wonderfully aromatic toasted spice blend. It’s a real showstopper!
WOV: Who is your culinary hero and why?
EG: My grandmother is and always will be my culinary hero. It’s why I dedicated this book to her.
Best wishes with the book, Eddie!
- 4 bolillos
- 8 teaspoons vegan butter
- 1 cup Refried Black Beans
- 1 to 1½ cups Garbanzorizo, or store-bought
- vegan chorizo, cooked
- ½ to 1 cup vegan shredded white cheese
- 1 avocado, sliced (garnish)
- 1 to 2 cups Pico de Gallo (garnish)
- 1 lime, quartered (garnish)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Cut the bolillos open. Spread 1 teaspoon of butter on the sliced side of each half. Place the bolillo halves on a baking sheet facing up and toast for 5 minutes, or until the edges are golden and crispy. Remove from the oven.
- Spread 2 tablespoons of Refried Black Beans evenly over each bread half. Top the beans with 2 to 3 tablespoons of Garbanzorizo or chorizo.
- Sprinkle 1 to 2 tablespoons of the shredded cheese over each half and place back in oven for 5 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.
- Serve with the garnishes of your choice.
- COOKING TIP: For a sweet mollete, spread butter on the bread and sprinkle each half with 1 teaspoon of sugar. Toast for 5 to 7 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Sprinkle with cinnamon and serve.
- 1½ tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup yellow onion, finely diced
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon chipotle chili powder
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 2½ tablespoons sundried tomatoes, finely chopped
- 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 teaspoon tamari
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- In a large pan, heat the oil at medium-high heat. Add the onion and salt and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the onion is nearly translucent. Add the garlic and stir together.
- Add the cumin, thyme, oregano, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, paprika, chipotle and chili powders, and the chopped sundried tomatoes. Mix well.
- Add the chickpeas, tamari, and vinegar, and toss until combined.
- Mash the mixture lightly until the chickpeas are crumbly. Mix well and cook for 5 to 7 more minutes, stirring occasionally.