meatless mondays: mexican food…

I don’t know about you, but I am over Thanksgiving dinner! I’ve had days of leftovers, stuffing myself over and over again. Casseroles, pies, and of course turkey (although I only had one piece so I can’t say I’m technically “turkey-ed out”.) I’m ready for something different and easy and….Mexican!

One of my favorite dinners is a big taco spread. There are so many variations. You can get as elaborate as you’d like with various side dishes and salsas, or just keep it super simple.

First you choose your main filling. My husband is a fan of ground beef seasoned with green chilis, cumin and chili powder. I love grilled fish with lime. Sometimes we stew a chicken in the crock pot with some salsa all day. Or on Meatless Monday, we might just have refried or black beans with grilled veggies!

For the outer shell, you can choose from hard corn tortilla, soft corn tortilla, white or whole wheat flour tortillas. Depending on the filling, I will often serve more than one choice. Different people have different preferences. Personally I’m a fan of doubled up corn tortillas for most fillings.

Grate some cheddar cheese or pick up the Chihuahua version at a local market to melt onto your filling of choice. Shred some lettuce or cabbage, dice some tomatoes and onions, and chop some cilantro and jalapenos for a garnish. Feel free to add your own variations, like sautéed mushrooms, or grilled green and red peppers.

Serve sour cream, guacamole, and salsa as additional toppings (or just to dip your chips in). It’s very easy to make your own pico de gallo, salsa, or guacamole, and it tastes so much better than the store-bought version. Spice it up with jalapenos, green chilis, cayenne pepper, or a specialty hot sauce.

There are so many sides that compliment a taco dinner. I really enjoy a Mango Avocado Salad or a hearty Quinoa and Black Bean dish. Sometimes I’ll make a green chili soup to accompany my dinner. Or you can keep it simple with Mexican Rice and Beans.

At the end of the meal, I often make a big taco salad to eat for lunch the next day. Just keep the sour cream, guac, and salsa on the side so that the lettuce doesn’t get soggy.

Recipe: Black Bean and Grilled Veggie Tacos

1 package corn tortillas
1 tsp olive oil
1 green pepper
1 red pepper
1 onion
1 tomato
1 head romaine or ice burg lettuce
1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
Cumin & chili powder or taco seasoning
Cheddar cheese
Sour cream
Pico de gallo, salsa, hot sauce, or all 3!
Guacamole (optional)

Thinly slice 3/4 of the onion and both peppers. Saute in olive oil until tender. Heat the beans and mix in seasonings. Warm the corn tortillas (either in a towel in the microwave or on a skillet). Dice the tomato and remaining onion. Shred the lettuce and the cheese. Put each ingredient in a separate dish to serve.

Assemble your desired ingredients into the corn tortillas (I double them up so they don’t break as easily). Have fun mixing and matching the flavors!

Recipe: Pico de Gallo

3-4 ripe juicy tomatoes, diced
3/4 onion, diced (I prefer red onions for this)
~1 jalapeno, finely chopped (more or less, depending on their heat)
~1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
~1 tsp chopped garlic
~1/2 tsp cumin
~1/2 tsp chili powder
~1 Tbs lemon or lime juice
salt to taste

Mix all together and let mingle. The portions of each ingredient really depend on the taste and quality of the ingredient and your personal preference. Keep seasoning and adding to your salsa until you come up with the right balance!

Recipe: Mango and Avocado Salad (with Black Beans and Lime Vinaigrette)

2 ripe but firm avocados, halved, peeled and cubed
3 Tbs lime juice, divided
2 ripe but firm mangoes, peeled and cubed
1 jalapeno, finely chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp grated lime zest
1/4 tsp sugar
2 Tbs chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
3 Tbs olive oil
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

Gently toss avocado with 1 tablespoon of the lime juice in a medium bowl. Add mango, jalapeño and salt. Gently toss to combine.

Whisk together remaining 2 tablespoons lime juice, zest, sugar and cilantro in a large bowl. Whisk in oil until thoroughly combined to make a thick vinaigrette, then season with salt and pepper. Add black beans and avocado mixture and toss gently.

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