Ask my husband what he wants for dinner and he will, without fail, say, “Mexican”. I don’t even know why I ask, but I do. Maybe someday he will surprise me and ask for a Morrocan tagine with cinnamon couscous…but I’m not holding my breath.
It’s really all right with me because I really like Mexican food too. We have a good place in our neighborhood where we go on sunny Sunday evenings. It’s a pleasant walk there and back plus they have terrific margaritas and salsa to die for. But usually vegetarian Mexican food means lots of cheese which just isn’t my thing. My margarita skills are lackluster but in all honesty, I prefer “my” Mexican food to most restaurants, inauthentic as it may be.
This Black Bean Chilaquile recipe came to me via Twitter. Some friends were tweeting about good low fat cookbooks and I threw in my two cents for the Moosewood version (the cookbook is called Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites). Kate said that this chilaquile recipe is a standby for her. I’ve owned that cookbook for a good ten years – how did I miss making this? Very easy and quick to put together, healthy, hearty, and adaptable.
Let’s talk for a moment about low fat cooking. It’s the thing to do in January after all. I’m kind of funny about this topic. I am a healthy eater and I am careful with regards to my weight. I honestly don’t like food that is super rich or made with lots of oil or butter. My tastes naturally steer toward clean food. But I don’t get Cooking Light or own any low fat cookbooks with the exception of the Moosewood one. I prefer to take regular recipes and just lighten them up slightly. I sauté with the bare minimum of oil, use less cheese than is called for, steer away from recipes that use lots of cream and butter. Not all the time of course, there is a time for indulging. But if a recipe uses cooking spray to sauté and fat-free cheese and fat-free sour cream, I go running in the other direction. Baked Lay’s have a place in my pantry and I usually eat frozen yogurt instead of ice cream, but the line has to be drawn somewhere. And when it comes to baking, I am strictly of the full-fat school. I would rather have one bite of a perfect brownie than a box of “lite” cookies.
All this is a very long-winded way of saying that, while I cringe at most low fat cooking, I really like this cookbook. I use it all the time. It isn’t over-zealous it’s just healthy. It highlights a lot of different cuisines that are healthier than our own and every single thing I have made from it has been delicious. The book also thoughtfully includes menu suggestions using other recipes in the book. And for the pescatarians out there, there are fish recipes.
Black Bean Chilaquile
Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites
Serves 4 very hungry people or 6 less so
The original recipe calls for fat-free Cheddar cheese. I just can’t do it so I used the good stuff and just used a lot less of it. If you want it cheesy, add more. I used Guiltless Gourmet baked corn chips which do faintly taste like cardboard but become delicious in this dish. I topped it with this guacamole.
1 medium onion, diced
1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes, drained well
1½ cups frozen corn
1 15-oz. can black beans, drained
2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
5 oz. fresh spinach or Swiss chard
2 cups crushed baked tortilla chips
¾ cup grated Cheddar cheese
2 cups red salsa of your choice
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat and then add just enough olive oil to coat the bottom. Sauté the onions for about 8 minutes, until translucent. Stir in the tomatoes, corn, black beans, lime juice, salt and pepper and continue to sauté for another 5 -10 minutes, until just heated through.
Meanwhile in another pan, cook down the spinach until it is wilted, adding it to the pan in batches if necessary. Set aside.
Prepare an 8 x 8-inch casserole dish or baking pan with a very light coating of oil. Spread half of the crushed tortilla chips on the bottom. Spoon the sautéed vegetables over the tortilla chips and sprinke on about two-thirds of the grated Cheddar. Arrange the greens evenly over the cheese and spoon on half the salsa. Finish with the rest of the tortilla chips and top with the remaining salsa and Cheddar. Bake for about 35 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown.