Review: Tres Pupusas for an easy 10 minute meal

Tres Pupusas - Kale & Pinto Bean flavor (vegan & gluten-free)I’m taking a little break today from Orlando vacation posts for a review from the frozen section of the grocery store…

When we returned from our trip to Florida, we got in around 10:30 at night. So there was no time for grocery shopping. We just walked in the door, hugged and kissed our kitties, and went straight to bed. The next morning, the refrigerator and cupboard were slim pickings after almost a week away.

Luckily, before I left I’d received a couple of boxes for review from Tres Pupusas, a pupuseria out of Boulder, Colorado. They arrived frozen and on dry ice. If you’re not familiar with pupusas, they’re basically stuffed corn tortillas. Tres Pupusas has cuatro flavors of frozen pupusas and dos of them are vegan: Kale & Pinto and Black Bean & Corn.  All of them are gluten-free.

Black Bean & Corn Pupusas from Tres PupusasI pulled an avocado out of the refrigerator that had been a bit under ripe when I left and was now perfectly ripe and some jarred jalapeños for a simple breakfast that was ready in ten minutes.

The frozen pupusas are made with non-GMO corn (something that is important to me) and very simple ingredients. With only five ingredients, they include organic corn masa, black beans, organic sweet corn, olive oil, and salt.

I followed the baking directions, except I baked them on parchment paper without any oil. I later reheated one on the stove with a bit of oil in the frying pan, and the crisp texture added to the experience. So for best results, I’d recommend baking them and then finishing them off with a tiny bit of oil in a skillet for extra crispness on the exterior.

The flavor was mild but pleasant, and went especially well with avocado and jalapeños. The softness of the beans was reminiscent of refried beans. The pupusas would be a fun, easy side to have on hand for a tofu scramble, taco salad, or to serve alongside fried plantains.

Pinto bean & kale pupusas from Tres PupusasDavid is anti-pinto bean, and so I broke into the second box of pupusas on my own yesterday. This one is made with organic corn masa, water, pinto beans, olive oil, kale, salt, chili powder, chipotle powder, and onion powder.

I wasn’t as into the seasonings on the pinto & kale pupusas. The kale is chopped very small, and so the flavor of the kale is pretty non-existent. What I tasted the most was the chipotle seasoning. They weren’t bad by any means, but I preferred the black bean and corn.

Pinto & kale pupusas from Tres PupusasThe box suggests making curtido to go with them and gives a recipe, which I very loosely followed since I didn’t need an enormous batch of it for just one person. Curtido is similar to cole slaw and made with cabbage, carrots, onion, jalapeños, and apple cider vinegar. The crunchy cabbage matched nicely with the soft pupusas. I also served them with salsa & jarred jalapeño slices.

To see if Tres Pupusas are available in your area, you can check their store locator.

Disclaimer: I received two complimentary boxes of pupusas from Tres Pupusas. The thoughts and opinions are totally my own.

Ethos Vegan Kitchen in Winter Park, Florida

Ethos Vegan Kitchen in Winter Park, FloridaWhen heading to the Orlando area, there were a few restaurants that we were certain to revisit from our last trip in 2013. At the top of that list: Ethos Vegan Kitchen in Winter Park. The menu at Ethos is full of comfort foods and homestyle sandwiches.  It looks like so many other American restaurants with one big difference – all of the food is vegan. The food isn’t too expensive with sandwiches in the $8 dollar range, appetizers around $4 and $5, and entrees coming in around $12.

The restaurant is spacious with a long bar and plenty of seating, and yet one of the nights we went, there was a 20 minute wait. Coming from a place with one vegan restaurant, it’s always a novelty when we have to wait at a restaurant. Most of the places we frequent in small town Iowa, we walk right in and sit down. However, it makes my heart happy that they are doing such good business at Ethos that the place requires a wait on a Friday or Saturday night. So that night we grabbed a seat at the bar once one became available.

Another cool thing about Ethos is the mix of customers. It brings in a diverse crowd and a mix of young to old. I don’t know the percentage of their customers that are vegan, but it felt like Ethos was a place that people just liked, regardless of how they ate at other meals.

What's the Dilly, Philly at Ethos Vegan Kitchen in Winter Park, FloridaOn our last trip to Florida, I’d skipped one of their most well-known sandwiches, and I’d been kicking myself ever since. So this time I knew I wouldn’t leave Orlando without trying their What’s the Dilly, Philly? The Philly is made with big chunks of seitan, sautéed peppers and onions, and melted Daiya on a long hoagie bun. It was served with a mango-tomato salsa that tasted fresh and popping with flavor and reminded me of the mango salsa I make in the summer. The Philly had a great chew to it and was filling and hearty.

Pizza at Ethos Vegan Kitchen in Winter Park, FloridaDavid ordered the pizza with his choice of toppings. He went with mushrooms, onions, garlic, and sausage. The sausage was sliced Italian sausage from Tofurky. Having a taste of it really took me back to my early vegan days when we’d buy that sausage regularly.

Garlic knots at Ethos Vegan Kitchen in Winter Park, FloridaSpeaking of David, the appetizer that was his obsession to repeat again were the garlic knots with melted vegan butter for dipping. So on another trip we ordered them to start the meal, and they were just as heavenly as remembered. The light knots almost melt in your mouth, so hot and soft. They are brushed with vegan butter and a smattering of parmesan-style cheese.

BBQ Chickun Plate at Ethos Vegan Kitchen in Winter Park, FloridaFor that meal, I went with the BBQ Chickun plate, which came with sautéed collard greens, coleslaw, mashed potatoes, and gravy. I believe that the chickun they use is Gardein. The barbecue sauce was a little sweeter than I prefer and the coleslaw on the bland side, but everything else was tasty.

Chickun Marsala at Ethos Vegan Kitchen in Winter Park, FloridaDavid ordered the Chickun Marsala with button mushrooms and a chickun that I believe was Gardein in a Marsala wine sauce on top of spaghetti. He enjoyed it, but barely put a dent in it because the serving size was so large. This is definitely not a place where you’re leaving hungry.

Tofurky Reuben at Ethos Vegan Kitchen in Winter Park, FloridaWe hadn’t planned on going to Ethos a third time on our trip, but a failed attempt at going to another restaurant took us back to a sure thing. As luck would have it, it was a Monday, which is the day they have their reuben special. As a huge reuben-fan, that was a major bonus. Their reubens are made with Tofurky slices, a layering of sauerkraut, and Thousand Island dressing.

The reuben was reminiscent of the one at Follow Your Heart, because the sauerkraut and dressing take center stage (unlike the reuben at Chicago Diner, say, where the focus is all about the pickled seitan). I paid a little extra for a side of sautéed asparagus, which came in a generous serving amount. I seriously could have split my plate with someone else, and there would have been plenty for two.

All American Burger at Ethos Vegan Kitchen in Winter Park, FloridaDavid ordered the All American burger, which I believe was the Gardein beefless burger, David’s favorite veggie burger. It was stacked with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and onions on a Kaiser roll and served with chips and mango-tomato salsa.

So what’s my plan for next time? I’m not going to miss getting one of their sundaes. The night we were seated at the bar, we saw the bartender making them all night with vegan ice cream, chocolate syrup, whipped topping, and a maraschino cherry on top. We had big hopes that we wouldn’t be so full after dinner, but alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Next time!

 Heading to the Orlando area?  See more things to see and do in Winter Park in this recent post.