29 Healthy Mexican-Inspired Recipes for Weeknights
Make a delicious meal at home with these Mexican-inspired recipes. These recipes use ingredients typically found in Mexican cuisine including beans, rice, salsa and avocado to create a flavorful and mouth-watering spread. Make recipes like Ceviche-Stuffed Avocados, Fish Tacos with Avocado-Lime Crema and Easy Fiesta Beans for a complete and filling dinner.
Rather than serving this easy mock shrimp ceviche with chips or tortillas, cut some carbs and pile the citrusy seafood in fresh avocado "bowls" for a fun and healthy presentation.
Huevos Rancheros Verdes
Huevos rancheros or "ranch eggs" is a classic Mexican dish that is great for a quick dinner. Traditionally, it's made with a red tomato-based sauce. Here we use tart and tangy green salsa instead. Serve with: brown rice and slices of avocado.
Chicken with Quick Mole 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.
Yucatan Lemon Soup
Although it's traditionally made with limes (and you could certainly make it that way), Meyer lemons add a gentler, subtle twist to this classic Mexican soup with shrimp, garlic and lots of fresh cilantro. Meyer lemons are usually available only during the winter months; they are rounder and smoother than common lemons. Serve as a light entree with a big salad or as a special starter.
Quick Shrimp Enchilada Bake
Shrimp enchiladas offer a taste of coastal Mexican cuisine but some versions contain so much cheese, butter and sour cream that they can pack a whopping 50 grams of fat per serving. Our version has vibrant flavor and only half the calories and 6 grams of fat per serving, plus we use precooked peeled shrimp so you can get the dish on your table fast enough for a weeknight supper. The addition of refried beans helps makes these enchiladas an excellent source of fiber as well.
Fish Tacos with Avocado-Lime Crema
If battering and frying fish sounds messy, frozen fish sticks are your fish taco savior in this healthy dinner recipe. Use them for a quick, kid-friendly dinner or try popcorn shrimp. Serve with your favorite salsa and black beans on the side.
Guacamole-Stuffed Poblano Peppers
A cousin of chile rellenos, these roasted stuffed poblano peppers are filled with guacamole and shredded lettuce. Serve this healthy Mexican recipe as a light lunch or go all out and serve it as a side dish with tacos or enchiladas for dinner.
Mini Chile Relleno Casseroles
Everyone gets an individual portion with this vegetarian, Tex-Mex mini casserole. A normal-size casserole like this would take close to an hour to bake--these are ready in half the time. Heatproof ramekins are a cook's best friend--we use them all the time to hold ingredients while cooking. You can buy them at most grocery stores.
Easy Fiesta Beans
An easy, tasty way to jazz up canned refried and pinto beans for the perfect side to accompany any Tex-Mex meal. Opt for fat-free refried beans and no-salt-added pinto beans to keep this dish as healthy as possible.
Coctel de Camarones
This classic Mexican shrimp cocktail is usually served as a starter, but makes a quick, refreshing main dish on a busy night. 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.
Here's a version of chicken tortilla soup that's both super-easy and delicious. To make it even quicker, use crumbled baked tortilla chips in place of the homemade tortilla strips and skip Steps 1-2. Serve with vinegary coleslaw, lime wedges and hot sauce.
Nina's Mexican Rice
The key to nutty and flavorful Mexican rice is cooking the rice first in oil until it is nicely golden.
Roasted Garlic Guacamole with Help-Yourself Garnishes
Rick Bayless knows all about how to throw a great fiesta, or party, and a key part of any great fiesta is the food. "I like to welcome guests with this guacamole bar," he says. "I start off with a basic guacamole made with roasted garlic and set out bowls of toppings so everyone can customize each bite." (Recipe from Fiesta at Rick's by Rick Bayless; W.W. Norton and Company, 2010.)
Chipotle Chicken Quinoa Burrito Bowl
This chipotle-flavored burrito bowl recipe is even better than takeout and just as fast. Loading it with vegetables and using quinoa in place of rice adds nutrition for a healthy dinner.
The EatingWell Taco
Building the perfect taco is a very personal task--cheese under meat, cheese on top, no cheese at all? This is just our recommendation.
Migas, scrambled eggs with strips of tortillas, is a tasty breakfast or quick dinner. Poblano peppers, onion and salsa on top ensure you get some veggies in your eggs.
Veracruzana is a dish full of onions, jalapeños and tomatoes from the Mexican state of Veracruz. Here we pair the zesty sauce with shrimp, but it can be served with any type of fish or chicken. The heat of fresh jalapeños varies depending on growing conditions. Be sure to taste yours as you're adding them to the dish and adjust the amount according to your taste. For pepper flavor without the heat, use a thinly sliced green bell pepper in place of the jalapeños. Serve with: Rice or potatoes and an avocado salad.
Taco Lettuce Wraps
Don't limit yourself to lettuce for this low-carb, gluten-free taco lettuce wrap recipe--any fresh green sturdy enough to wrap around 1/2 cup of filling works.
8-Layer Taco Salad
This gorgeous and colorful 8-layer taco salad recipe is made healthier by using ground turkey in place of beef, adding Greek yogurt and bumping up the amount of vegetables. Serve this salad in a clear glass bowl and you'll have an eye-catching party-worthy dinner or potluck side in just 30 minutes.
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.
Our version of this enchilada-style chilaquiles casserole is packed with nutritious beans and vegetables. Canned prepared enchilada sauce has great flavor and keeps the prep time quick. It can vary in heat level so find one that suits your taste. If you want to eliminate the heat altogether, try a green enchilada sauce (which is often milder than red) or substitute two 8-ounce cans of plain tomato sauce.
Vegetarian Spinach Enchiladas
This vegetarian enchilada recipe is weeknight-fast when you skip the step of filling and rolling the enchiladas and make a stacked enchilada casserole instead. Just layer the tortillas, sauce and cheesy spinach filling the way you would lasagna and have the casserole in the oven in 20 minutes.
Spinach Salad with Avocado-Ranch Dressing
This healthy spinach salad recipe uses one avocado two ways: half goes into a healthy creamy ranch dressing and the other half of the avocado gets chopped to top the spinach salad.
Butternut Squash & Tomato Posole
Posole is a traditional Mexican stew most often made with pork and hominy (dried corn kernels that have been treated to soften the hull) cooked in a fragrant chile-based sauce. In this quick vegetarian recipe, we rely on the meatiness of pinto beans and butternut squash combined with hand-crushed whole tomatoes to make a satisfying stew.
Zesty Shrimp & Black Bean Salad
Loaded with fresh tomatoes, peppers and cilantro and seasoned with cumin and chile, this shrimp and black bean salad recipe has all the flavors of a great fresh salsa and is a quick and easy no-cook recipe. Serve with tortilla chips or fresh corn tortillas.
This tomatillo-based gazpacho is gorgeously green with a tart flavor that complements the sweet shrimp and salty olives. Make this meatless by substituting ricotta salata or feta for the shrimp. Serve with: Cheese quesadillas.
Mexican Grilled Corn
Street vendors across Mexico sell this style of roasted or grilled corn--topped with mayonnaise, chili powder and Cotija cheese. You can serve the unadorned corn on a platter with small bowls of the sauce, cheese and lime on the side so everyone can make their own.
Ancho Chile Quesadillas
Rehydrated dry chiles often have more intense and multidimensional flavors than fresh. In this simple quesadilla recipe, mildly spicy ancho chiles (dried poblanos) and nutty Gruyère cheese melt together for an easy snack or quick dinner. Find anchos in well-stocked supermarkets, at Mexican grocers or online.
Scallop Aguachile with Coconut
Aguachile, a seafood ceviche popular all over Mexico, is usually made with an acidic, searingly spicy sauce. This healthy recipe has a twist: young coconut and lemon juice create a mellower dish. Young Thai coconuts contain lots of sweet water and tender, custard-like meat that blend right into the sauce. Look for them in some large supermarkets and Asian grocery stores.