Tacoma-Grown Recipes From Angel’s Cocina

According to Angel Navarro, “The best food is in your kitchen.” And he should know; he’s done the rounds in Tacoma restaurants from dishwasher at La Fondita, to kitchen manager, to his current position as sauté chef at Asado.

Some of the dishes come from this 23-year-old’s combined knowledge and experience, and some are passed directly down from his family. He also regularly cooks for the nine other people he lives with. His dad worked at Moctezuma’s for 17 years and Angel has done a lot of traveling to Mexico.

When COVID hit in March 2019, Angel was studying communications at Tacoma Community College.

“I got laid off from my kitchen job and was stuck at home,” he explained. “I was bored and I couldn’t stop cooking. Then I had a thought to myself—I decided I was going to make an Instagram platform where I can share my recipes so young professionals can learn how to cook and save money on ingredients.”

And thus began @angelscocina.

Take a look at just a few of the 100+ recipes Angel has created thus far:

Roasted Japanese Eggplant with Roasted Veggies

This recipe is all vegan and so special because the eggplant, cherry tomato, and basil are straight out of my backyard garden! Experiencing cooking from my garden felt so incredible. From growing, to nurturing the plants for a long time, and harvesting them inspires me to grow even more plants for next year!!

  • 1 sliced Japanese eggplant
  • 1/2 cup yellow corn
  • 6-7 cherry tomatoes
  • 8-10 roasted garlic
  • 1 sliced jalapeño
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil
  • 2 tbsp veggie oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Place a large pot of water at high heat on a burner.
  2. When water is boiling add corn in.
  3. After about 10-15 minutes remove corn from pot and run cold water over it until it’s cool.
  4. Peel and slice corn. Then place in a container to set aside.
  5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  6. On a baking tray add corn, eggplant, tomato, garlic and veggie oil.
  7. Place baking tray in preheated oven and cook for 12-15 minutes.
  8. Bring a plate down for roasted veggies. Finally add salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!

Baked Bartlett Pear with Almonds and Dried Cranberries

This recipe is so healthy, yummy, and easy to make! Bartlett Pears are locally grown in Washington and are in season. They are naturally sweet, highly nutritious, and promote gut health.

  • 1/2 Bartlett pear
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 tbsp of chopped almonds
  • 2 tbsp honey
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and place the pear in the oven.
  2. Bake for 15 minutes or until the pear is soft.
  3. Then place the pear onto a plate and turn off the oven.
  4. Lastly top with dried cranberries, almonds, and honey. Enjoy!

Enchiladas Verdes de Pollo

This recipe is so yummy and easy to make. I’m so happy I can finally make this recipe because guess what? The tomatillos are from the garden and I just want to mention that I adopted the tomatillo plant from a local garden in a neighborhood of Tacoma.

  • 6oz chicken breast
  • 2 tbsp queso fresco
  • 12-15 husked tomatillos
  • 1/2 chopped sweet onion
  • 8-10 garlic cloves
  • 1 chopped jalapeño
  • 1 chopped serrano pepper
  • 1 chopped anaheim pepper
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 4 corn tortillas
  • 1/4 veggie oil
  • 1/2 tbsp cayenne and onion powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Place a medium pot with water on a burner at high heat and add chicken breast and tomatillos.
  2. When chicken reaches 165 degrees remove from water to cool on a plate and when the tomatillos are soft remove from water into a blender.
  3. In the blender add all the peppers, onion, garlic, cilantro, cayenne and onion powder. Blend when all ingredients are added.
  4. When the sauce is blended, set aside into a bowl. Next when chicken is cool use two forks to shred the chicken and when it is all shredded add into the bowl with tomatillo sauce.
  5. Place a médium pan on a burner at medium high heat and add veggie oil.
  6. When oil is hot add one tortilla to cook for 10 seconds and then flip for an additional 10 seconds. Then remove from oil onto a plate and repeat with remaining tortillas.
  7. When all tortillas are cooked, roll them with the chicken mixture.
  8. Place enchiladas on a plate and finish with queso fresco, salt, and pepper to taste!

Tamale Rojo

Everyone’s had a tamale but have you ever wondered how they’re made? Well I asked my mom and she shared her tamale rojo recipe with me that she has perfected over the years. 

Tamales were discovered as early as 8000 to 5000 BC in Mesoamerica. They are made with masa (corn flour) and the filling is made up of a mixture of pork shoulder, veggies, and chiles.

Corn dough

  • 1 cup of masa (corn flour)
  • 1/3 cup of manteca (lard)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup water

Filling

  • 1 pound pork shoulder 
  • 1 sliced potato
  • 2 shredded carrot
  • 1/2 sweet onion
  • 8-10 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup tomato purée
  • 8 California Chile’s (deseeded)
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1tsp cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 10 corn husk
  1. Place a pot on medium low heat and add 4 cups of water, pork, potato, carrot, onion, garlic, tomato purée, cayenne and paprika. Cook for 2-3 hours.
  2. After pork is cooked, remove from heat to cool. Next place a small pot on medium high heat. Add 1 cup of pork broth to the small pot and then place Chile’s in it.
  3. Cook Chile’s until they become wilted and then remove from heat.
  4. Following that, in a blender, add the wilted Chile’s and broth, one cup pork broth, one cup of the boiled veggies, and then blend until a sauce is made. Set sauce aside for later use.
  5. After the pork is cooled, place in a large bowl. Then begin to pull apart with forks or hands until it’s all shredded.
  6. When pork is all shredded, blend in the red sauce, cumin, and add salt and pepper to taste. Then set aside for later use.
  7. Next in a large bowl hand mix together, one cup of masa, 1/3 cup manteca, 3/4 cup water, 1/2 tsp baking powder, and 2 tsp salt. Then set aside for later use.
    Following that wash corn husk over a sink until they become soft and clean. Then place on a cutting board to begin filling.
  8. With a spoon spread the masa paste onto the corn husk and then add meat over the paste. Then close the tamale and set to the side. Repeat until all the masa is gone.
  9. Finally place a double boiler with water on medium heat. Add in tamales and cook for 2 hours or until dough is fully cooked through. Then pull out to cool and enjoy!

Sweet Potato Toast

This recipe was so fun and easy to make. It’s all vegan and has a sweet and savory balance to it. Eating with sweet potato is great because it is full of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 1/4 cup dairy free yogurt
  • 2 tbsp blueberries
  • 2 tbsp blackberries
  • 2 tbsp chopped walnuts
  • 2 tbsp veggie oil
  1. Place a cutting board over a counter and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Next, slice sweet potatoes over the cutting board and then place onto a baking tray.
  3. Following that, drizzle veggie oil over sweet potatoes and place the baking tray into the oven.
  4. Bake sweet potatoes for 20-25 minutes or until soft.
  5. After, remove from the oven and then place the roasted sweet potatoes onto a plate.
  6. Finally, add yogurt, blueberries, blackberries, and walnuts over the sweet potatoes!

After creating recipes for a few months Angel decided to start also sharing gardening tips.

“Last year I grew microgreens, basil, parsley, thyme, cilantro, cherry tomatoes, Japanese eggplant, tomatillo and more…Herbs can be expensive in grocery stores and they’re so easy to grow.”

Angel wants to create a recipe book eventually, but for now he’s happily just freely sharing his knowledge and passion with his fellow Tacomans and beyond.

Follow his journey by finding him on Instagram @angelscocina.

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