Mexican Cuisine. · Salads/ Recipes for the Calorie Conscious.

Taco Bell Cantina Bowl – Fresh, Low Carb and Low Sodium Version – A fitting 300`th Post!!!

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The Taco Bell Cantina Bowl is my all time favourite one bowl lunch option! It has carbs from the rice,  protein from the beans, fat which are abundant in avocados, the smoothness of the green goddess dressing, tart and crunchy corn salsa, all doused with the undertones of cilantro and lemon in every bite. The original Cantina Bowl has tonnes of sodium and a total of 540 calories. By substituting ranch with thick curd, it makes it more healthier with lower fat and of course fresher. The probiotics in the curd are extremely beneficial to the body and then there is the special relationship between the beans, the cilantro rice and the dressing all tied together with douses of fresh lemon juice! Try it and life would never be the same again!

 THE TACO BELL CANTINA BOWL TYPICALLY HAS:

  1. Bottom Layer of the herby cilantro lemon rice.
  2. The next layer of spice blended cooked black beans.
  3. A bed of crisp romaine lettuce.
  4. Liberal douse of citrusy fresh Green Goddess Dressing.
  5. A dollop of Guacamole.
  6. 2 Tbsp Pico De Gallo.
  7. A handful of lemony grilled corn.
  8. 1 Tbsp of sour cream( Optional).
  9. Garnish of tortilla chips(Optional).

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HERBY CILANTRO LEMON RICE:

1 Cup Basmati or Long Grained Rice.

1/2 Onion sliced long.

1 Tbsp Chopped Garlic.

1 Tbsp chopped cilantro.

1 Tbsp chopped parsley.

1 Tbsp Lemon Juice.

  • Cook the basmati/long grained rice with a few drops of oil and a few drops of lemon juice.
  • In a wok, saute onion and when pink, add all the herbs – garlic, cilantro and parsley.
  • Add the cooked rice and mix and finally add the lemon juice. Add salt as needed.
  • Add more chopped cilantro to enhance the flavour.
  • This forms the bed of the Taco Bell Cantina Bowl.

 

BLACK BEANS:

1 Cup Black Beans soaked overnight and cooked in a little salt.

1 pinch of seasoning salt.

A pinch of paprika.

A few drops of Lemon Juice.

  • Combine the cooked black beans with the seasoning salt, paprika and lemon juice. Set aside.

GUACAMOLE:

 

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INGREDIENTS:

2 Hass Avocados .

1 Small Ripe Tomato.

1 Jalapeno.

1 Lemon`s Juice.

1 Garlic Pod.

Sea Salt.

Pepper.

Cilantro to garnish.

PREPARATION:

  • Split the avocados in half, remove the seed, and scoop out the flesh.  Transfer to a shallow bowl.
  • Immediately squeeze the lemon juice over the avocados to prevent oxidation and mix it in.
  • Add the sliced jalapenos, tomatoes, salt, pepper,  crushed garlic and mix it all with the back of a spatula.
  • Add a dash of chopped cilantro for garnish.

PICO DE GALLO:

 

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1 Fresh Tomato chopped very fine.

1 Onion chopped fine.

1 Jalapeno~ chopped fine.

Chopped Cilantro to garnish.

A few drops of lemon juice.

  • Combine all the above ingredients in a shallow bowl. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

FIRE ROASTED CORN SALSA:

 

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2 Cups Sweet Corn.

1/2 Cup Cilantro .

2 Japaleno Peppers.

1/4 Tsp Garlic Powder.(Optional)

Salt.

Juice from 1 lemon.

PREPARATION:

  • Thaw the sweet corn and pat it dry. Flavour it with salt and a little lemon juice.
  • In a food processor puree the cilantro, jalapeno and lemon juice to a rough paste.
  • Marinate it over the sweet corn kernels for about ten minutes.
  • Grill it on a stove top/ grill/ oven until lightly brown.
  • Adjust salt and garnish with more cilantro and a few more drops of lemon juice.
  • This is one of the ingredient to garnish of the Taco Bell Cantina Bowl.

ASSEMBLING THE TACO BELL CANTINA BOWL:

The Cantina Bowl is assembled for every person in the bowl in which they would be served in. So individual portions are made as per preference and served, as follows:

  1. In the serving bowl layer a bed of the herb and citrus flavoured rice.
  2. Next, add a ladle of the seasoned black beans, over the rice.
  3. Drizzle a layer of chopped romaine lettuce over the beans. This provides crunch and is a surprise layer.,
  4. Slather a ladleful of the fresh and citrus bursting Green Goddess Dressing.
  5. A big dollop of Guacamole is served on top of the dressing on one side.
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  7. Another spoonful of sour cream is served on the other side.
  8. These are sprinkled with the prepared Pico De Gallo.
  9. The entire bowl is drizzled with a handful of grilled corn.

Can anything else beat that???

Italian Cuisine. · Mexican Cuisine.

Green Goddess Dressing – Zingy Creamy Dressing / Dip.

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The Green Goddess Dressing originated in the west coast of the United States, before the advent of the now famous creamy “Ranch” dressing. In its original version it`s base was mayonnaise, sour cream, parsley, anchovies , chives, lemon juice and pepper and everything else thats nice and creamy but its a very forgiving recipe. It allows so many different modifications – I drew inspiration from the Taco Bells Cantina Bowl, retained the creaminess by substituting mayo for fresh thick curd. I am guessing its alright to do with Greek Yogurt too, hashed in the cilantro and the chilies and added an avocado for added silkiness! This forms the base of the Cantina Bowl and I think its a very fresh delectable dressing/dip. A great do ahead party dip that serves as a side for Pita chips, or even cut veggies. Rehash it with dill, parsley or mint for some extremely gratifying results..I told you so..

INGREDIENTS:

1/3 Cup Sour Cream.(Substitute Mayo / Greek Yogurt  if sour cream not available.)

1/3 Cup Fresh Yogurt.

2 Garlic Cloves. or 1 Tsp Fresh Garlic Paste – Please do not use store bought versions!

1 Ripe Hass Avocado.

1 Bunch of Cilantro Leaves.

1 Tbsp Fresh Parsley Leaves.(Optional).

1 Jalapeno.

A few inches of spring onion leaves or chives if available.

1 Lemon`s Juice.

1 Tsp Salt.

1 Tsp Tarragon.( The recipe calls for this herb but I did not have it)

PREPARATION:

  • Add the ingredients in the order mentioned in a food processor or blender and pulse it to get a creamy mint green goddess dressing.
  • Transfer to a glass jar with a tight lid and store for over a week.
  • Slather the dressing on toast for a zingy breakfast.
  • Use it as a creamy dip for pita chips or tortilla chips.
  • Is a great salad dressing without the carbs from the ranch.
  • Can be used instead of Aioli in burgers and sadwiches.
  • The Green Goddess Dressing ties together my favourite Taco Bell`s Cantina Bowl.

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Mexican Cuisine. · Salads/ Recipes for the Calorie Conscious.

Vegetable Enchiladas.( Corn Tortilla rolled with filling baked in Chilli Pepper Sauce/ Tomato Salsa)

Ingredients:

1 Medium Onion sliced thin.

2 Carrots sliced thin.

1 Medium Bell Pepper.

2 Medium Zucchini.

1/2 Cup Corn.

1 Bunch Cilantro.

1/2 Cup Salsa.

1 Can of Chilli Enchilada Sauce./ Tomato Salsa.

8 Spinach Tortillas. (Plain ones can be used too)

Handful of Mexican Cheese.

2 Tsp Mexican Blend Seasoning.

Half  a Lemon`s Juice.

PREPARATION:

  • Slice all the veggies thin and place them on a greased tava . Sprinkle salt and pepper and mexican blend seasoning and mix in well.
  • We do this step instead of roasting in an oven as that might make the veggies soft, while we want to retain its crunchiness.
  • Roast  the carrots, zuchinni and the onions until they are brown and  carmelized and delicious.
  • Remove from tava  allow to cool and sprinkle chopped cilantro and  lemon juice.

  • Keep the greased baking pan ready and layer the base with the enchilada sauce / tomato salsa.
  • You can use the chilli sauce which is a light green colour, or as a variation you could use the store bought medium chunky salsa.
  • Now take all the tortillas and warm them on a tava like you would do a roti and set them aside.
  •  Take a tortilla, scoop out some guacamole and spread it all over the face of it.
  • This would serve as the base on which we would add the flavoured roasted veggies .

  • Scoop out the veggies – roasted onions, carrots, zuchinni, corn, cheese and cilantro on to the tortilla and tightly roll the tortilla and place it face down on the sauce in the pan.

  • Continue and finish with all the tortillas and place them one after the other in the pan.
  • Sprinkle some more cilantro over the rolled tortillas and pour out all the remaining salsa/ chilli sauce.
  • Add mexican cheese and some salsa and bake for 30 minutes until the tortillas are all cooked well and the cheese bubbles.

  • Serve hot with refried beans and guacamole.
  • I made Enchiladas with 8 tortillas and froze  three portions for lunch for TH.
  • Typically you could serve them one of them on a platter with the following sides:

Refried Beans.

Sour Cream.

Guacamole.

Shredded Lettuce.

Roasted Veggies.

  • This would make a filling meal by itself as it has a variety of ingredients with various textures. Your share of carbs, protein, and vitamins all in one go!
  • I made two batches – One with the chilli pepper sauce and the other with regular medium tomato salsa. Both had very different tastes and textures yet with all the gooodness rolled in one!

Mexican Cuisine.

Veggie Enchiladas – Tasty Mexican Fare.

Veggie Enchiladas

An Enchilada is a corn or flour tortilla rolled tightly around a filling and baked in a sauce. With the modifications in the diet and to suit ones tastes one can change the type of tortilla or filling or the sauce to make it more healthy and filling. In this case I used whole wheat tortilla from Whole Foods, roasted veggies for the filling, and medium tomato salsa and tangy tomatillo salsa for the sauce. As always, my all time favourite mexican restaurant has been Macayos and as far as Enchiladas goes…it has always been a personal favourite of mine..served with dollops of guacamole, salsa  and sour cream its a gratifying meal in itself.

INGREDIENTS:

6 Whole Wheat Tortillas.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Medium Tomato Salsa.

Medium tangy Tomatillo Salsa.

Prepared Guacamole.

Grated Mild Cheddar Cheese.

1 Medium Onion.

1 Zuchinni cut in to half moons with skin.

2 Carrots peeled and diced in to long strips.

1 Medium Bell Pepper cut in to long strips.

Salt.

Pepper.

Mexican Fiesta Seasoning.

For Plating:

Sour Cream.

Salsa.

Guacamole.

Shredded Lettuce.

Half a Lime.

PREPARATION:

  • The first step is the preparation of the filling, for which with a little creativity, the sky is the limit. Here I have used only roasted veggies.
  • Once the veggies are cut season them with salt and pepper and a generous dash of the mexican fiesta seasoning. The seasoning normally would have salt, so watch out for this.

Roasted Veggies.
  • Heat the grill/grill pan and toss the veggies and slightly char roast them – Make them in batches as each veggie has a different texture and water content and takes different times to roast and carmelise.
  • Organise them on to a plate in bunches.
  • Take a long baking tray and line the base with a thin layer of salsa. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 350F/180C.
  • Slightly toast the whole wheat tortillas until they are warm and pliable.
  • Set them on your working board, line it with a dab of guacamole. This forms as the base on which all the filling sticks to.

  • Now add the roasted veggies, chopped cilantro, mild cheddar cheese and tightly roll and place on to the tray with the fold facing down.

  • Continue and complete all the tortillas. If you  have left over roasted veggies left, save them so they can be served as a side.
  • Pour some salsa over the tortilla rolls. Add more grated cheese and roasted onions.
  • Bake for ten minutes or until the cheese is nicely melted and oozing out.
  • I made two batches one topped with roasted veggies and one without.

 

PLATING:

  • Serve up a stuffed enchilada on the plate. Drizzle some more salsa on the top and on the side.
  • Add a dollop of sour cream, shredded lettuce, roasted veggies, and guacamole. Black Beans Optional.
  • A filling yet healthy meal all rolled in one.