Garlic Scape Papatzules

Papatzules are a traditional and very popular dish in the Mexican state of Yucatan.  They are similar to a basic enchilada, but the ingredients make this preparation unique; a slightly crisped corn tortilla is stuffed, dunked in sauce and rolled, but the sauce is made from ground pumpkin seed and epazote, and hard-boiled eggs serve as stuffing; also, there is no cheese in papatzules, and they are topped with a second sauce, made from tomatoes and habanero peppers (click here for a recipe in English.) An article on the Yucatan Times, mentions that the etymology of papadzul (another spelling for the word) is definitely Mayan, but it has proven impossible to referee in favour of a single root, so there are two accepted interpretations: 1) “Muddy and soaked”, from papak – to smear and zul – to soak, directly from the cooking methods; or 2) “Food of the master”, from the words papa – food and dzul – gentleman, since it is said to have been served to the Spaniards.

My sister reminded me of papatzules a few days ago, because of my reference to pumpkin seeds in pipián sauces.  From there, it was a natural progression to use the garlic scape with pumpkin seed paste from my previous post to prepare my own version of papatzules.

Garlic Scape Papatzules –

Papatzules con chicotillo de ajo

Printable recipes: Garlic Scape Papatzules and Garlic Scape with Pumpkin Seed Paste

Ingredients (for 6-8 pieces)

1¼ cup garlic scape paste with pumpkin seed (recipe included in printable recipe, above)
½ cup boiling water
1 sprig epazote (if not available, use a mix of summer savoury and oregano, to taste)
4 hard-boiled eggs
3 tomatoes
¼ onion, peeled and cut into chunks
1 Habanero pepper, or to taste
Salt, to taste
6-8 corn tortillas
4 tsp oil (+ 1 tsp more, optional)

Reserve a couple of epazote leaves for garnish (if using) and soak the rest (or other herbs, fresh or dry) in the freshly boiled water; set aside for at least 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, peel and chop hard-boiled eggs, reserving a few nice slices for garnish; set aside.  Process tomatoes (stem spot removed), onion and pepper (if using) in the blender for a few seconds, until smooth; at this point, this sauce may be fried in 2 teaspoons of oil, or just keep raw; season with salt and set aside.

Once the herb infusion has cooled down (photo below, left), pour into a blender jar along with the garlic scape with pumpkin seed paste, and process until well incorporated.  In a saucepan, warm up the other 2 teaspoons of oil over medium heat; pour the seed and herb sauce and cook, reducing heat to a simmer and stirring, until thoroughly heated (photo below, right):

Prepare an assembly station with the hard-boiled eggs, sauce above, and reserved tomato sauce:

024 assembly line for papatzules

The tortillas may be crisped for a few seconds in one teaspoon of oil, or just used nice and warm.  Also, the traditional recipe calls for dunking the tortillas in the green papatzul sauce, but I prefer skipping this step, to have a better control of the texture, and preventing the tortillas from getting too soggy.  To assemble one portion: Place some chopped egg and a couple of tablespoons of papatzul sauce in a tortilla, then roll and arrange in a serving plate; repeat with one or two more:

025 assembling

Pour a generous amount of more papatzul sauce, to cover; top with some of the tomato sauce, and garnish with a slice of egg and an epazote leaf (if using):

026 garlic scape papatzules

This is a wonderful and nutritious dish, also suitable for vegetarians, and may be enjoyed for a hearty breakfast or as a main course any time of day.


My sister and I also reminisced about eating a platter of papatzules with our dad during a trip we took to Merida, Yucatan’s capital city:

Merida 1981 dad and sister
My dad, taking a picture of me; my sister sitting next to him. Merida, Yucatan, 1981.
Merida 1981 Irene
Me, taking the photo above (ah, ephemeral youth!)

I am joining What’s for Dinner? Sunday Link-up #206 with Helen @ The Lazy Gastronome.


I am sharing my recipe at Tummy Tuesday with Mary @ Cactus Catz.


I am bringing my papatzules to Fiesta Friday # 282 with Angie @ Fiesta Friday, this week co-hosting with Antonia @ Zoale.com.

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14 thoughts on “Garlic Scape Papatzules

    1. Yes, those photos were taken by my dad and by me, at the same time, with the cameras that we are holding in the photos, back in 1981! I keep the prints in an old-fashioned photo album.

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  1. After our trip to Mexico a couple months ago I was loolking for a pumpkin seed sauce recipe. And garlic scapes are in season. We’re set to have a fancy meal once I buy tortillas! Gracias! Rebecca

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