There's more to Tex-Mex than nachos and enchiladas.
Web2Carz Contributing Writer
Published: July 26th, 2012
hen our travels took us to New Mexico a couple weeks ago, we got to explore a little bit of the desert, and with that obviously comes the local cuisine—in this case, Southwestern foods. When we think of Southerwestern eats, we think of things like jalapenos, pepperjack cheese, salsa, guacamole, and tortillas. We think of restaurants like Chili's, whose menu is mostly an amalgam of the aforementioned ingredients. Thankfully, things like these are easy to recreate in your own kitchen. So if you're looking for a theme for your next dinner party, consider some of these dishes.
Southwestern cuisine is somewhat similar to Mexican cooking, but often more "Americanized." Food in New Mexico is largely dependent on the chile, to the point that the state's official "state question" is "Red or green?", which refers to the color of the chile one prefers to eat. Southwest cuisine covers New Mexico as well as Texas and Arizona, though in Texas it's often called "Tex-Mex" while Arizonans refer to the cooking style as "Sonoran." Whatever you call it, it's delicious.
Typical Southwestern dishes include burritos, chili con carne, chimichangas, fajita, nachos, salsa, rice and beans, quesadillas, sopapillas, stuffed peppers, tacos, and more—pretty much everything you'd ever want to eat (except for maybe pizza, but Taco Bell nailed that down for you already with their Mexican Pizza).
As far as tacos, there are approximately eleventy billion different variations you can make—flour or corn tortillas, beef/chicken/steak/tofu/avocado/fish/goat/veggie fillings (and that's definitely not an all-inclusive list), not to mention possible salsas, cheeses, and other vegetables. One trend lately is using fatty pork belly for tacos, which while we wouldn't recommend doing every day lest you're trying to give yourself a heart attack, are delicious.
Stuffed peppers are an easy dish, and again, allow you to use whichever sort of filling you might want to use. For an ultra-healthy (although not-quite traditionally Southwestern) mix, trade out using rice for using quinoa, a high-protein seed that cooks similar to how rice does but is much more nutritional.
Quesadillas are another dish that offers near-endless options for fillings. If you're a fan of Chili's, you'll enjoy these Nine-Layer Quesadillas which have so much filling that you bake them rather than use a pan.
Along with these main dishes, you'll want to serve up some salsa and chips or rice and beans as side dishes. A simple pico de gallo can be made by mixing together chopped onion, chopped tomato, some garlic, salt, jalapeno, and cilantro, while guacamole is simply avocados, onion, cilantro, lime, and maybe some tomato if you feel like it. As far as rice and beans, we like this recipe the most.
As far as sopapillas, they are traditionally served as a dessert, as they're made of fried dough. They're sort of a Mexican donut, and can be served rolled in cinnamon sugar, or with chocolate or honey as a dipping sauce, and are pretty delicious. We like this recipe from AllRecipes as a starter, but you can vary the flavorings and dipping sauces based on your preferences.
Now that you've had a crash course in Southwestern cuisine, you can confidently invite your friends over for a BYOT (bring your own Tecate/Tequila, of course) fiesta.