A few weeks ago, my family sat down together for a traditional Latin American meal. Before we began, we raised our glasses together for a toast: “Salud, amor, y pesetas, y el tiempo para gustarlos,” which is Spanish for "Health, love and money, and the time to enjoy it."
We make that toast whenever we’re together. But no matter how many times we’ve said it before, I still forget the ending. So my Auntie Lucy coaches me through it, forgiving my horrendous accent along the way. Despite the imperfections, I love our family ritual—just thinking about it conjures up so many good memories of quality time spent together with people I love.
As Cinco de Mayo rolls around, I find myself wanting to extend the sentiment beyond familial tradition and invite my friends over for a celebratory fiesta.
What better way to celebrate good health and good company than with an authentically delicious Mexican meal on a festive spring day? There are so many good things about the staples of traditional Mexican food. Beans, corn, tomatoes and peppers are inherently nutritious and bursting with important vitamins and nutrients.
For these 5 new recipes from the May/June 2011 issue of EatingWell Magazine, the EatingWell Test Kitchen tapped into some of Mexico’s healthier traditions to create fresh, authentic recipes you can easily make at home.
This classic Mexican shrimp cocktail is usually served as a starter, but makes a quick, refreshing main dish too. Add some of your favorite hot sauce for extra kick. You can eat it immediately or chill it for up to 4 hours if you prefer it colder. Serve with warm corn tortillas or cheese quesadillas and your favorite hot sauce.
Rich, dark and delicious, mole is a signature sauce in Mexican cooking. There are many variations, but the basic ingredients include plenty of chiles and nuts along with a touch of chocolate to tame the heat of the chiles. Traditional recipes can take several hours to prepare—this quick version takes a few shortcuts by using chili powder, nut butter and chocolate chips. Serve with rice and a medley of sautéed zucchini, pepper and onion.
Our vegetarian version of fideos, a toasted pasta dish served in both Mexico and Spain, is packed with green beans, corn and tomatoes. Omit the cheese to make it vegan. Serve with a crisp romaine, red onion and avocado salad tossed with red-wine vinaigrette.
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 this one, we make our own chorizo-inspired filling by spicing up ground pork or turkey. Use a panini maker if you have one or use our technique for making pressed sandwiches without any special equipment. Serve with a mixed green salad.
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.
What's your favorite Mexican recipe?
More from EatingWell:
- 20 Meatless Mexican Recipes
- Spicy Homemade Salsa Recipes
- Flan de Queso and More Lightened-Up Desserts
- Get a free trial issue when you subscribe to EatingWell Magazine and sign up for our free e-newsletters!