More talk about takeout and recipes for taco bake, quesadillas, and MYOBurritos.
It’s been awhile, sure, but I still have some ideas for make-at-home food meant for take-out cravings. If you are eying the Taco Bell (or are frequenting the local Mexican joint or even one of those new-fangled fresh-Mexican chains) on the way home from work, then this is the episode in the Takeout Series for you.
Now, I understand that of all the restaurants (fast food and otherwise) to avoid, Mexican is not exactly at the top of the list. You can, after all, get a fiber-filled, veggie-studded meal at any of them. And quickly, And affordably. However, let’s be honest with ourselves. Not only is prepared food (in almost all cases) automatically higher in sodium, additives, unhealthy fats, etc., but most of us (myself included) make the wrong choices when perusing our 20-page, salsa-splattered menu (or while idling in the drive). Chalupas? Nope. Fried tortilla chips by the heaping basket? Nope. The three-cheese with extra cheese and a cheese sauce quesadilla? Nope. So why not forgo the take-out whenever you reasonably can (which is going to be most of the time), and curb those American-Mexican food cravings with a couple really fulfilling recipes.
(For many, many straight-forward to crazy taco recipes, see 300 Best Taco Recipes.)
Recipes for a couple of taco salads can be found here.
For the sake of ease, you can use a packaged rice here, but you could also easily make your own by steaming it and stirring in salsa, chili powder, salt and olive oil, or chopped cilantro, lime, salt, and olive oil. Same with the salsa; buy a natural brand (or Herdez), or make your own. As for the final result, you can do the make-your-own thing (kids love this), or you can assemble before serving. Extra beans and rice (etc) on the side, with a sprinkle of queso, a sprig of cilantro (if you have it), and a lime wedge (again, if you have it). This will take all four burners on your stove, but it is so worth it.
- Prepare a package of premium Cuban or Spanish rice according to package directions.
- In a small-medium saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon olive or avocado oil. Saute a couple of minced cloves garlic and 1 finely diced red or green bell pepper, until softening. Add 2 cups corn (drained, if using canned) and cook until warm. (I like to brown a little.)
- In a small pan, heat 1-2 cans pinto or black beans.
- Lightly toast 4-8 extra large tortillas in a skillet. Place tortillas on plates and place rice, corn, and beans on the table with 1 diced white onion or a few sliced scallions, 1 cup sour cream or Salvadorean cream (which you can mimic by mixing cream into sour cream until it is pourable), 1-2 cups grated Monterrey Jack or crumbled queso fresco (or forgo the cheese, altogether), and 2 cups salsa or pica di gallo.
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil or avocado oil in a skillet, over medium heat. Add 1/4 cup sliced scallions, 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander, and 1 teaspoon ground cumin. Cook until tender, about 10 minutes.
- Stir in 1/4 cup minced cilantro and remove from heat.
- In a food processor, puree 1 can drained, black beans with 1/2 cup bean or chicken broth (or water), 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, juice of 2-3 limes, and scallion mixture (minding the steam), until mostly smooth. Taste for salt and lime.
- Rinse out that skillet, dry it, and lightly oil it. Heat over low-medium heat. Spread 1/4 bean mixture over half of a large tortilla (for a total of 4) and place in the pan. Scatter with grated Monterrey Jack or crumbled queso fresco, pico di gallo, and optional diced serranos or jalapenos. Fold tortilla in half and cook, flipping once, until cheese melts and tortilla is lightly browned on both sides. Repeat 3 more times with rest of tortillas.
- Serve warm, cut into wedges with a pizza slicer, with a green salad tossed with lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.
MEXICAN MASH BAKE
This is a great dish for leftovers, to share, or to give away. Obviously, for a smaller amount, halve everything and bake in an 8×8 inch pan (or keep the measurements and bake in 2 8×8 pans, one for you and one for a friend, or one for now and one, frozen, for later). You can make this with chicken, as the directions give, or with beef or bison. You can also omit the meat and just substitute a couple tablespoons avocado oil, for sauteing. It would work just as well with a vegetarian meat substitute/TVP, like Boca, but you will have to oil the saute pan well. Also, if you are looking to bump up the protein (like if you don’t use meat or for whatever reason), you can spread a can of natural, lower sodium refried beans onto the tortillas, when layering. This would be great served with chopped lettuce, sliced radishes, and lime wedges.
- Preheat oven to 375F and oil a 9×13 inch baking pan.
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown 1 pound ground chicken with 1 diced, small, white onion, 1 diced red bell pepper, and 1-2 cloves pressed garlic.
- Add 1 can drained black beans, 1 diced, fresh tomato, 1/2 cup corn, 2 teaspoons chili powder, and 1 teaspoon ground cumin. Cook for a couple more minutes.
- Add 2 cups marinara sauce (for reals, I use Newman’s Marinara) and 1 cup salsa. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in a handful of minced cilantro (or none, if you prefer).
- Spread 1/3 sauce mixture in bottom of baking pan. Top with 4 whole wheat tortillas. Layer on another 1/3rd of mixture, then generous 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, then 4 more tortillas. Finish with last 1/3rd of mixture and 1 cup shredded cheddar.
- Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 more. Make sure it is hot all the way through, but let sit 10 minutes before cutting into it. Spread with 1 cup sour cream and 1/4 cup sliced scallions before serving. Really yummy.