Spanish cuisine adds taste, variety – includes recipes – column

Spanish Cuisine Adds Taste, Variety

At first glance, Mexican food may not seem to be the healthiest choice for people who seek to limit their intake of salt, fat and cholesterol. Indeed, deep fried tortilla chips and heavy, meaty burritos are traditional selections at run-of-the-mill Mexican restaurants. Authentic Mexican cuisine, however, is based on peppers, beans and spices that offer great taste and nutrition and little fat.

Both green and red peppers contain about the same quantities of vitamin C as oranges and they are good sources of potassium and vitamin A, according to the Cornell Cooperative Extension. Beans are packed with protein and contain most of the essential amino acids. When combined with peppers in a bean burrito and served with spicy brown rice, they form a nutritionally complete meal.

If you are trying to stick to a healthy diet, it’s important to create meals that are flavorful and tempting, not bland. And if you are strapped for time, like most people, a quick, easy menu is essential. Mexican fare fits the bill on both counts.

Enjoy a super fiesta of burritos wrapped in corn or flour tortillas, with Spanish rice and spicy salsa. The savory menu below is low in fat, high in fiber and contains no cholesterol. The recipes were provided by the Mexican Village restaurant in Fargo, N.D., which uses natural ingredients and delicate combinations that restore much of what Mexican food has lost as it crossed the border.

Bean Burrito

2 1/2 cups dried pinto beans

6 cups water

2 diced onions

1 diced green onion

10 flour tortillas

Wash and drain beans. Add the water and onions. Cover and simmer, adding more

water if necessary until beans are tender and will mash readily (approximately three hours). Drain and mash beans with a potato masher or electric mixer. Warm tortillas one at a time for a few seconds over a hot burner. Roll and small amount of beans in a tortilla. Garnish with green onions and serve with Red Chili Gravy Sauce.

Red Chili Gravy Sauce

2 tsp dried chili pepper

1/4 tsp paprika

1 Tbsp oregano

1/4 onion, chopped 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

2 Tbsp cilantro, coarsely

chopped 1/2 clove garlic 1/2 cup tomato sauce

3 Tbsp flour

3 Tbsp vegetable oil

2 cups water

Combine spices, onion, cilantro, garlic, tomato sauce and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Place flour in a bowl and stir in vegetable oil. Add this to the gravy mixture and again bring to a boil, stirring frequently as sauce thickens slightly.

Spanish Rice

4 cups cooked brown rice

1/2 cup chopped onions 1/2 cup (6 oz) tomato paste 1/2 cup green bell peppers,

chopped 1/2 cup red bell peppers,


1 Tbsp paprika

3 cloves garlic, crushed

Place 1 cup of water in a saucepan with onions, green and red peppers and spices. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Mix in tomato paste and brown rice and heat for a few minutes.

Salsa Mexicana

1 1/2 diced tomatoes

1/4 cup fresh jalapeno peppers

1/2 diced onion

1 Tbsp cilantro, chopped

Mix above ingredients and use as a spicy garnish on burritos or beans.

Chicken Fajitas

1 small can diced jalapeno

peppers 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken

broth 1/3 cup lemon juice 1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp dried oregano

1/4 tsp garlic powder

3 chicken breasts, sliced in

thin strips

1 red bell pepper, sliced in

thin strips

1 medium onion, cut in slivers

and separated 1/2 avocado, cut into small


Flour tortillas

Spanish Rice (see recipe


Shredded lettuce

Combine jalapenos, chicken broth, lemon juice, oil, cumin and garlic. Marinate the chicken, red pepper and onions in the mixture overnight. Drain. In a large skillet, stir-fry the chicken, peppers and onions for about 4 minutes or until the meat is done. Heap the mixture into warmed tortillas. Add small amounts of Spanish rice and shredded lettuce and sprinkle avocado chunks on top. Fold and eat. Serves 4.

Bulgar and Mushroom Chili

1/2 cup bulgur wheat

2 1/2 cups tomato juice

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 onions, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

1 lb mushrooms, coarsely


2 cups water

1 Tbsp tomato paste

3 Tbsp pure ground chili


2 tsp cumin

2 cups cooked kidney beans

Place the bulgur in a mixing bowl. Bring the tomato juice to a rolling boil over high heat. When boiling, pour over the bulgur and let stand for three minutes; drain, reserving the tomato juice. Set aside. In a 6- to 8-quart casserole dish, cook onions in vegetable oil over moderate heat for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in green pepper and garlic; cook for 2 minutes. Stir in celery and carrots; cook 2 minutes. Stir in mushrooms; cook 1 minute. Add the reserved tomato juice, water, tomato paste, chili powder and cumin; bring to a boil, stirring. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until slightly reduced. Stir in the kidney beans and continue simmering, partially covered, for 15 minutes. Stir in the bulgur and simmer 5 minutes longer.

Black Bean Chili

2 cups cooked black beans

1 eggplant, cut in 1/2-inch


2 zucchini, cut in 1/4-inch


1/4 cup olive oil

32 oz canned tomatoes

1 1/2 cups corn

2 diced onions

1 coarsely chopped green


1 cup vegetable broth

4 cloves garlic, crushed

2 Tbsp dried parsley

2 Tbsp chili powder

2 Tbsp oregano

1/2 tsp red pepper

1/4 cup lemon juice

2 Tbsp dried basil

1 tsp black pepper

1 Tbsp dill weed

1 1/2 Tbsp cumin

Combine all ingredients in large pot or Dutch oven. Bring to simmer and cook until vegetables are tender, about 1 1/4 hours.

COPYRIGHT 1990 PRIMEDIA Intertec, a PRIMEDIA Company. All Rights Reserved.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

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