Food is the language we all speak. I remember very distinctlly the first time I tasted pizza. I was 9 years old and visiting Expo 67 in Montréal. My dad ordered a cheese pizza for me and I thought it was the best thing I had ever tasted in my life. Today’s popular pie was considered exotic cuisine back then. Now, pizza is widely enjoyed around the world and most of us don’t give a thought to how it became part of out diets. Funny how that happens! Our palates evolve and are enriched by travel and the wonderful contributions made by immigrants into our communities. And thank goodness!
I came to Mexican cuisine much later in life. Moving to the USA 26 years ago certainly exposed me to this popular cuisine, especially that my apartment was across the street from a Mexican restaurant. But until more recently, my Mexican cooking repertoire was limited to taco night for my family and the occasional guacamole. When I made my first enchiladas for Cinco de Mayo recently, I didn’t think I had been very adventurous as far as Mexican dishes were concerned. Searching the blog archives, I was surprised to find several recipes I had made and they had all been reader favorites. I’ve compiled a collection of these recipes all in one place to help you find them more easily. Most are super easy to make and certainly are “Americanized” versions of Mexican cuisine. Click on the highlighted title to access the recipes. As I prepare to travel to Morocco, I am dreaming of the exotic new culinary adventures I will discover and bring back to share on the blog. This is my 400th post. Can it really be true? Thank you for reading me over the years. Enjoy!
Chilled Mexican Corn and Avocado Soup
This was my first enchilada dish and I have to admit they were a huge hit. I have often been turned off enchiladas because they are often too mushy, drowning in sour cream and excessive cheese. This combination was just right and lightened up without sour cream. Instead I served Greek yogurt on the side. Using bottled salsa verde whizzed up with tons of fresh cilantro in the blender made an easy and quick delicious sauce. Spicing up the meat from a whole rottiserie chicken with cumin, smoked paprika, garlic, chili powder, lime juice and fresh jalapeno made for a light flavorful filing without a lot of work. The fresh pineapple salsa with black beans was a fantastic side. I pickled the red onion for a half hour while I prepared the rest of the dish to soften their bite. Although you could use raw onion and skip this step, the pickling turns the onions a pretty pink color and adds some bright notes to the salsa. This meal was a test drive for Cinco de Mayo and made me wonder how I could have deprived my family from such delicious enchiladas for so long. It’s destined to become a favorite. Happy Cinco de Mayo!
For the filling:
- 8 large soft tortillas(10-12 inch diameter)
- 1 large rotisserie chicken, skinned, deboned, meat shredded
- juice of 1 lime
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons of ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons of chili powder
- 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
- 1 large jalapeno pepper, cored, seeds and membranes removed, diced
- 1 cup of shredded Mexican-blend cheese
Toss the shredded chicken with all the ingredients and set aside.
For the sauce:
- 1 16-once jar of medium heat salsa verde
- 1 cup of chopped fresh cilantro, packed tight
In a blender, mix the cilantro and the salsa verde until blended into a smooth sauce.
For the topping:
- 2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Preheat oven to 425F.
- Spread a layer of sauce in the bottom of a 9″ X 13″ oven proof dish.
- Warm the tortillas as you usually do. I microwaved each one for 20 seconds. Spread about 1/3 of a cup of the chicken filling across the lower third of the tortilla. Roll up and set seam side down on top of the sauce. Repeat until all the tortillas are filled. Spread the rest of the sauce over the enciladas, leaving about an inch of the tortilla uncovered on each edge. Sprinkle with the cheese.
- Bake 20 minutes uncovered in center of oven until cheese is bubbly. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and serve with the black bean-pineapple salsa, cubed avocado, extra lime wedges, Greek yogurt or sour cream.
Black Bean-Pineapple Salsa
- 1 14-oz can of black beans, drained
- 2 cups of fresh pineapple, chopped in bite sized pieces
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1 large jalapeno, cored, seeded, membranes removed, diced fine
- 1/2 cup of diced pickled red onion*
- 1/4 cup of chopped fresh cilantro
- juice of 1/2 lime
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- Mix all ingredients in a serving bowl. Let the flavors blend together at least a half hour. Can be made up to 3 days in advance.
*To pickle the red onion, in an unreactive bowl, mix together 1/2 cup of water, 1/2 cup of white distilled vinegar, a teaspoon of white sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Mix well and add the diced red onion. Leave to cure about a half hour before adding to the salsa.