Remember when chipotle was an exotic ingredient? Now we have Chipotle (the restaurant) on every other corner. Americans love Mexican food when we eat out. Mexican chain restaurants grew twice as fast as other chains in 2009, according to a recent report. I love nachos dripping with melted cheese as much as you do, but fat and calorie levels are sky-high on many of those oversized restaurant platters of enchiladas or chimichangas slathered in cheese and sauces. It's enough to make you cry into your margarita. Instead, let's focus on the bright, fresh tastes of authentic Mexican food, delivered by these recipes for quick, healthier Mexican dinners you can make at home.
Stovetop Fideos: We have quick, healthy Mexican recipes for all tastes. For a meatless meal, try Stovetop Fideos, a version of a traditional dish that starts with toasted pasta (the fideos), throws in a market-basketful of vegetables and cooks it all together in one pot with a garlicky broth.
Coctel de Camarones: Looking for something healthy to fill those big, beautiful margarita glasses? Make a lively and lovely Coctel de Camarones (that's a Mexican take on shrimp cocktail). It has that "easy yet elegant" thing going on, so it's great for entertaining too.
Homemade Chorizo Tortas: I like to mix things up and have a hot sandwich for dinner sometimes. A torta is the Mexican version of a panini--a pressed sandwich made with crusty bread that can have an endless array of fillings. For our Homemade Chorizo Tortas, we make our own chorizo-inspired filling by spicing up ground pork or turkey.
Chicken with Quick Mole Sauce: Another traditional Mexican dish is chicken with mole (rhymes with "Olé!") sauce. Some moles have lengthy ingredient lists and can take hours to make. Chicken with Quick Mole Sauce is ready in 35 minutes and still full of rich, fascinating flavor.
Steak Burritos: Here's a steak burrito (pictured above) you'll be making more than once--it's everything you want in a burrito and just about everything you need for dinner tonight.
Makes: 4 servings
Active time: 30 minutes | Total: 30 minutes
Cost per serving: under $4
Here's a burrito inspired by San Francisco's super burritos that come packed with meat, beans, rice, cheese, guacamole and salsa. We've kept this home-style version a bit simpler to make and a whole lot healthier with brown rice, whole-wheat tortillas and a more reasonable serving size. We recommend wrapping it in foil--the traditional way to serve it--so you can pick the burrito up and eat it without it falling apart, peeling back the foil as you go. Serve with a cold beer and vinegar-dressed slaw.
1/2 cup prepared fresh salsa
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup instant brown rice
1 15-ounce can black beans, preferably low-sodium, rinsed
12 ounces strip steak, trimmed and thinly sliced crosswise
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil
4 8-inch tortillas, preferably whole-wheat
1/2 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup prepared guacamole
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1. Combine salsa and water in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Stir in rice, reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in beans, return to a simmer and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the rice is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes more.
2. Meanwhile, sprinkle steak with pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add steak and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes.
3. To assemble, divide the steak among the tortillas and top with equal amounts of cheese, guacamole, cilantro and the rice mixture. Roll each tortilla up into a burrito.
Per serving: 471 calories; 16 g fat (6 g sat, 5 g mono); 63 mg cholesterol; 49 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 31 g protein; 7 g fiber; 600 mg sodium; 279 mg potassium. Nutrition bonus: Zinc (29% daily value), Folate (27% dv), Calcium & Iron (23% dv), Magnesium (18% dv).
What's a Mexican-restaurant favorite you'd like to be able to make a healthier version of at home?
By Wendy Ruopp
Wendy Ruopp has been the managing editor of EatingWell for most of her adult life. Although she writes about food for the Weeknights column of EatingWell Magazine, her husband does the cooking at home.
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