Here in the U.S., we enjoy a diversity of regional ethnic cuisines. One of the most popular of these originates in Mexico. In America, many Mexican recipes have evolved into what we know as Southwestern or Tex-Mex cookery. Typically, ingredients are inexpensive, the dishes are filling and packed with sensational flavor. These hot and spicy meals are terrific at the summertime table, helping to bring cooling relief from that droopy feeling on the hottest of summer days.
Mexican food is characterized by spicy seasoning and combinations which use rice, beans and plenty of veggies. Mexican recipes use generous amounts of cheese, while meat is generally used more sparingly than in the conventional American meat-and-potatoes menu. The meat and cheese provide plenty of protein and the other ingredients assure you get your fiber and veggies in a one-dish meal.
When you think of Mexican recipes, enchiladas and tacos probably come first to mind. However, Mexican cuisine is much more diverse. For example, if you’re planning a breakfast or brunch party, try a spicy omelet, filled with jalapenos, cheddar, onions and olives, topped off with a good dollop of salsa and sour cream. For lunch, a layered salad of shredded lettuce, julienned chicken, jicama, olives, guacamole and salsa is a delicious treat in the heat of the day. Chile rellenos is another popular recipe that serves as an excellent side dish or entree. Authentic chile rellenos is made with fresh jalapenos, halved and then seeded, baked in a mixture of beaten eggs and jack cheese.
As with many ethnic cuisines, flavor is everything and less is more. Judicious use of meats, diverse vegetable flavors and textures, along with bright and spicy seasoning means you get a lot of taste satisfaction at very little expense.
Another advantage to a menu centered on Mexican recipes is that many such dishes are natural do-aheads. This makes for easy summertime entertaining. Meats may be cooked and seasoned in advance, held in the frig overnight or frozen for use on an impromptu basis. Enchiladas may be prepared to be oven-ready, then frozen, well ahead of party day. On the day before serving, thaw overnight. Pop them in a baking dish, pour on your sauce and bake.
In case you’re wondering how hot and spicy dishes can serve to cool you in sweltering heat, here’s how that works: the hot seasonings, such as cayenne pepper and spicy ingredients like jalapenos and salsas, cause you to perspire, prompting your body to cool naturally.
You may have had the experience of dipping a corn chip into an authentically burning-hot salsa. That’s when you reach for the beer! For kids, a glass of milk does the trick as well. You’ll feel cool and comfortable and your mouth won’t be on fire.
Aren’t Mexican recipes the right thing to serve on a hot weather? So economical, but purely heaven to the taste!