Authentic cheese pupusas with pickled curtido (cabbage) are cheesy, savory, and absolutely delicious. This Salvadoran dish is made with love and surprisingly simple to make. This post is done in collaboration with JORD Wood Watches, but (as always) all opinions are my own.
There’s nothing quite like making something with your hands.
A new project, a piece of furniture, a painting, a beautiful garden.
And, of course, food. Especially slow, mindful, and arduous recipes tend to be my favorite ones. Recipes that require repetition or rely heavily on the use of your hands. Kneading bread, rolling truffles, icing layer cakes, making homemade pasta.
They’re also the recipes we tend to cherish the most and make for special occasions or for the company of our loved ones. And, sure, it’s because they taste amazing—but it’s also because the love and labor that went into it is immediately evident.
One of the most simple things that we can do for someone is feed them. But it’s so much more than that. It’s beautiful, profound, challenging, time-consuming. When we set a plate in front of someone, we give them a piece of ourselves. Of our soul. Especially if that plate is bountiful with something so carefully and so lovingly hand-made.
Like pupusas. Cheese pupusas, to be precise.
I never had (or even heard of) a pupusa until I met my husband. My husband, Ryan, is half Honduran. Although pupusas are from El Salvador, they’re also quite popular in the neighboring Honduras.
They’re plump little rounds made from a thick, hand-formed masa cake. They’re stuffed with cheese, beans, or pork and are typically served with cortido, a pickled cabbage slaw with a little bit of heat. They’re absolutely delicious and are the perfect street food.
Recently, Ryan started becoming a bit obsessed with making them. And I am not complaining.
Although they may seem difficult, I swear that they’re not. (Ryan even admits his expertise in cooking does not go far and gives me permission to say that if he can make this, anyone can.)
They are a little time-consuming, but aren’t most good things?
Ryan has made these cheese pupusas for me a few times now and I’m fairly certain he’s getting annoyed by my requests for them. However, we did a little pre-Valentine’s Day celebration, and he was so happy with the gift that I gave him that he willingly offered to make me pupusas.
As you can see from the photos, I gifted him this stunning JORD wood watch. These watches are hand-crafted from all-natural wood and they are all so truly unique and beautiful. They make watches for both men and women.
A quote on their website immediately resonated with me: The value of a watch is not in being able to tell how much time has passed, but in being aware of the need to make that time count. Moments are bigger than minutes.
How natural then, to pair this artisan and nature-inspired timepiece with a recipe that also makes us understand and appreciate the significance of time, of memories, of heritage, and of love.
Maybe you can gift your Valentine a JORD wood watch this year, and perhaps also make them one of their favorite foods from scratch. (Scroll down to enter to win a $100 gift card from JORD watches!)
As per the photos above, this is basically how you make cheese pupusas: mix, knead, rest, ball, flatten, fill, ball again!
Once the cheese pupusas are formed, they only take a few minutes on each side to cook. I highly recommend cooking them in a cast-iron skillet.
The pickled cabbage and oregano are a must with this recipe. Everything complements each other perfectly. If you can find Mexican oregano, even better. I will link to it below.
I sincerely hope you enjoy these cheese pupusas and get to make them soon, preferably with someone you love. Thank you to JORD watches for providing us with this beautiful watch. Enter to win a $100 gift card from JORD watches! (Even if you don’t win, each contestant will receive a $25 off code.) Contest ends on 02/12.
and here’s a few things you may need for this recipe!
This post contains affiliate links, but are always products I love + use myself.
- 2 cups masa harina (I used Maseca, linked above)
- 1½ - 2 cups warm water
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup finely grated Queso Fresco
- 1½ cups shredded mozzarella
- 2 cups shredded green and purple cabbage*
- 1 large carrot, peeled and grated
- 4 radishes, thinly sliced
- ½ jalapeno, sliced (optional)
- 1 cup white vinegar
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- ¼ cup water
- Make the curtido at least 24 hours before you want to serve the pupusas.
- Heat the vinegar, water, salt, and brown sugar until the sugar is melted. Cool the mixture slightly and pour the warm mixture over the vegetables. Add red pepper flakes and oregano and stir thoroughly to combine.
- Store the curtido in the refrigerator in a large bowl covered with plastic wrap or in mason jars. The top of the cabbage mixture should be submerged under the liquid. If you need to, you can add a little more warm water to cover.
- Make the dough. Mix the masa harina, salt, queso fresco, and warm water to form a soft dough. Start with 1½ cups of warm water. If the dough is too dry, add more water tablespoon by tablespoon. The dough is all about feel. Your dough should be soft, but not sticky. The dough should not be cracking when you form it into a ball. When you get the right consistency, knead the dough for a minute and then cover with a clean, damp towel. Let rest 15 minutes.
- Form the pupusas. Grease your hands with a little bit of oil and form the pupusas into a golf-sized ball. Then, pat it out to form a disc. (See photos above for reference). Place 1½ tablespoons of the shredded mozzarella in the center of the disc, and carefully pinch the dough around the cheese to form into a rough ball again. Then flatten into the final disc, about 4" wide.
- When forming the pupusas, store the already-shaped pupusas under a damp cloth to avoid drying out.
- Heat a large non-stick or cast-iron pan over medium heat for 10 minutes. Lightly grease the pan with oil and cook the pupusas for 4-5 minutes per side. Do not crowd the pupusas, and cook until they form rich brown charred spots.
- Serve the pupusas hot with curtido and oregano.
*Purple cabbage will make the curtido pink, but feel free to use any cabbage you'd like. You can use a pre-shredded cabbage and carrot blend, like the one sold at Trader Joe's.
**I highly recommend Maseca for this recipe, linked above through Amazon, or found commonly at grocery stores in either the Ethnic or flour aisle.
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