Cooking with La Vaquita Queso

November 18, 2016

I'm not Texas-born - and I've only lived in the state for a little over six years - but I'd like to think that I've developed several tendencies of a native. Especially in regards to food. For example: I could eat Mexican food all day everyday, I believe in the healing powers of a great margarita, I definitely think eggs taste best in a breakfast taco, and I think that Texas has some of the most authentically delicious food, chefs, and restaurants. I'll admit that I'm a little bit biased. But it's hard not to be when surrounded but such authentic flavors and ingredients!

While pizza is admittedly my food husband, I'd like to think of cheese as my food boyfriend. He's a good boyfriend because he's so versatile - a quality that really became apparent to me when I arrived in Texas. And while I don't discriminate between varieties, I definitely have a thing for Mexican and Tex-Mex cheeses. From creamy queso (cheese dip) and salty cojita to crumbled queso fresco, no Mexican dish feels complete without some cheese. When I shop for these Hispanic cheeses to use in my own recipes, I like to use La Vaquita. Not only is it made in Texas (pride) but each variety is always fresh, flavorful, and easily elevates my humble homemade dishes. And although the cheeses are based on Mexican techniques and go wonderfully with Hispanic cuisine, they also pair really well with other recipes. I'm sharing two of my fave La Vaquita recipes so show just how easily the brand's Queso Fresco can be included in non-Mexican food!

 

Before I get into the yummy recipes, I just have to tip my hat to food bloggers. Food prep, styling, and shooting is NOT easy! I had shot the ingredients for each recipe before having Sally take photos of me doing the assembly portion…and then I accidentally deleted all of those prep/ingredient shots. So. Frustrating. But the recipes turned out deliciously and that’s what really matters, right?

So! Each of these recipes are super yummy and I used La Vaquita Queso Fresco in both. Queso Fresco (which means “fresh cheese”) is a made from pasteurized milk and is great cheese to add to dishes because it crumbles really well, doesn’t melt easily (which makes for great mixing), and has a smooth creamy texture. Unlike a lot of other crumbling cheeses (like feta, blue cheese, etc.) Queso Fresco has a mild flavor that’s bright and fresh but not overpowering – making it especially great for a variety of dishes, both Hispanic and not. Case and point with the two recipes below!

.Hummus Fresco: Hummus is one of my favorite appetizers. It’s easy, most everyone likes eating it, and there are so many ways to dress it up. I took the original La Vaquita recipe and altered it a little bit (by not making my own pico de gallo) to make things even easier on myself. Though it’s “semi-homemade” I love how colorful the final result is and think that the hand-crumbed Queso Fresco adds a great texture element.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups hummus
  • 1/2 cup Pico de Gallo
  • fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • black pepper
  • 1/2 cup La Vaquita Queso Fresco

Directions:

  • On a large plate, spread hummus evenly about 1 inch.
  • Sprinkle pico de gallo around the edge of the plate.
  • Drizzle hummus with olive oil
  • Crack fresh pepper on top
  • Sprinkle chopped cilantro on top of pico de gallo and/or atop hummus
  • Heap center with crumbled La Laquita Queso Fresco
  • Serve with pita or tortilla chips

.Zesty Roasted Brussel Sprouts: Brussel sprouts make for the perfect crowd-pleasing side dish and they go so well with almost any protein. I’m crazy about eating them and love cooking them, too. This recipe caught my attention because of the orange zest + honey + cayenne pepper…I’m so glad I tried making it because the combination is delicious! There’s a definitely spice factor due to the cayenne pepper and the Queso Fresco really helps the spicy from taking over.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds brussels sprouts
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup of honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of orange zest
  • 1/4 cup of La Vaquita Queso Fresco

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Cut brussels sprouts in half. In a large baking sheet, toss brussels in olive oil and season with salt. Roast for 25-30 minutes until deeply browned.
  • Heat honey, cayenne and orange zest together in a small sauce pan on low and pour over brussels sprouts once they are out of the oven.
  • Before serving, sprinkle in La Vaquita Queso Fresco.

The next time I make the Zesty Brussel Sprounts I want to try using half Queso Fresco and half La Vaquita Cojita cheese. Cojita is an aged cheese that has more of a salty flavor and I think it would be so yummy with the fresh Cojita and roasted brussels…

Feeling hungry? Try these dishes for yourself and visit the La Vaquita site for more yum recipes!

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