Mexican Food for Randy

January 11, 2010


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.

Olive oil
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.


  1. I’m like you – I’d rather eat smaller amounts of real stuff than large quantities of cardboard. And fat-free mayo? I think someone invented that because late one night, a bunch of drunk food researchers decided to try to come up with the most vile product they could get people to eat.

    Comment by Kristina — January 11, 2010 @ 10:15 pm

  2. Looks delicious! I completely agree with you about low fat ingredients. I never, ever buy them. Honestly I don’t skimp on oils either, and if I’m really looking to add health to a recipe I cut down on or eliminate sugar and processed grains and add more vegetables. I tend to enjoy the more colorful dishes anyway. Great to know that the Moosewood book is reliable for healthy recipes. I appreciate your insight :)

    Comment by Darya — January 11, 2010 @ 10:15 pm

  3. Glad you liked it! It’s a great dish to serve to non vegetarians as well — so hearty they don’t miss the meat! I sometimes use a light Mexican cheese blend I buy at Trader Joe’s but generally I’m with you — I’d rather use moderate amounts of real food and any time I see “fat free” I run the other way.

    Comment by Kate @ Savour Fare — January 11, 2010 @ 10:16 pm

  4. looks like a perfect meal for my dinner deliveries. I have heard such great things about moosewood, but i just can’t get in to cookbooks without pictures. Therefore, I will take your recommendation with the visual, thank you!

    Comment by Sara — January 11, 2010 @ 10:38 pm

  5. It looks so delicious and it’s low-fat? I’ve been cooking low-fat meals lately so this would be perfect. I’m bookmarking this recipe. Thank you. :)

    Comment by Sook — January 11, 2010 @ 11:22 pm

  6. That sounds gorgeous! My hubby would love it too and if I could have a margarita too, well, that would only be a good thing :)

    Comment by Jacqueline — January 11, 2010 @ 11:54 pm

  7. We love Mexican at our house too. We will have to add this to our must make list. Every time I ask my husband what I should bake he says: Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Every single time. I guess our hubs just know what they like.

    Comment by Maria — January 12, 2010 @ 12:19 am

  8. Hi,
    I came over from The leftoverist. My husband and I are new to eating vegetarian and I am in search of a few good cookbooks. I would hate to waste my time and money on something that only holds a few good recipes. I recently purchased Moosewood restaurants cooking for health. Would please recommend other favorites?

    Comment by Cora — January 12, 2010 @ 1:41 am

  9. AMEN.. I am a full fat baker as well! There is no other way in my opinion

    Comment by Leslie — January 12, 2010 @ 2:01 am

  10. I think I will make this dish for super bowl Sunday.
    No meat on super bowl?
    This looks hearty enough to feed the animals.
    I am with you, down with LOW FAT products.
    Just eat less of the real thing.

    Comment by Stacey Snacks — January 12, 2010 @ 2:33 am

  11. I am the same way with wanting clean food, though I do like Cooking Light I never use fat free anything. Most of the time not even the low fat, really, but they do have good recipes I just don’t make them “light.” I think that is one of the best ways you could diet is to go for clean food vs. a recipe loaded with fat free this and that. This looks great and I love Mexican, especially Tex-Mex!

    Comment by Katie @ goodLife {eats} — January 12, 2010 @ 3:00 am

  12. Ooh, I love chilaquiles. Mexican diner food. We had some delicious chilaquiles at Barrio on Capitol Hill recently, but they were definitely not lowfat :)

    Comment by The Leftoverist — January 12, 2010 @ 5:42 am

  13. Never made chilaquiles but am clearly going to have to! I’ve been mildly craving Mexican food for a good few months now, but am sort of clueless as to how to actually make much of it. Now I’ve got a recipe from a trusted source to try ;)

    Comment by Ele — January 12, 2010 @ 7:20 am

  14. I had to laugh when I read this, because I do subscribe to Cooking Light, but I always choose the full-fat ice cream and potato chips. I suppose we all have our contradictions…

    The guac looks delicious!

    Comment by Beatrice — January 12, 2010 @ 1:46 pm

  15. Yay! Too bad I just went to the grocery store this morning. Guess I’ll be going back for some salsa and chips and making this. My dear hubby has been liking Mexican food lately, which is a new thing around here. This looks nice and easy, and I think the kids will even like it if I get a mild salsa. Looking forward to trying it! Thanks again for some dinner inspiration:)

    Comment by Mara — January 12, 2010 @ 9:48 pm

  16. This looks delicious! I love this mix of flavors, and the guacamole on top is perfect. And, now I want that book!

    Comment by lisaiscooking — January 12, 2010 @ 10:04 pm

  17. That looks amazing!!

    Comment by Jess — January 12, 2010 @ 10:09 pm

  18. I LOVE Mexican food too. This looks fantastic!

    Comment by redmenace — January 12, 2010 @ 10:32 pm

  19. I just made something very similar to this, ironically out of Cooking Light. This looks more flavorful but the real problem we had with it was that the tortilla chips got soggy and really, really chewy–could barely cut even with a knife! Even worse after a night in the fridge. Do you find this happens or do the chips stay crisp and crunchy? And how do you get them to do that?

    Comment by Kate — January 13, 2010 @ 1:18 am

  20. I dislike low fat cooking and cookbooks as well, but have also been pleasantly surprised by this cookbook. The cottage cheese guacamole, weird as it may sound, is DIVINE. I will have to try this recipe out now too.

    Comment by Laura — January 13, 2010 @ 4:44 am

  21. Ooooh, I want to dive into that dish! I go crazy for guacamole… This looks like a really lovely (and comforting) veggie dish.

    Comment by Koek! — January 13, 2010 @ 7:56 am

  22. Mmm I love Mexican food. And I’ve made this before and liked it too. Unfortunately I haven’t loved everything I’ve made from this cookbook, but have found a few good things.

    Comment by Ashley — January 22, 2010 @ 6:01 am

  23. I actually created a recipe similar to this, I called it my Tex-mex casserole. Instead of chips I use corn tortillas, and instead of tomatoes I use enchilada sauce from Trader Joes. Otherwise it’s exactly the same! If you want to give it a real kick (but make it less healthy) I also brown some soy-rizo (no need for extra oil in the pan) it gives it more texture and flavor.

    Comment by Rachel — January 28, 2010 @ 2:29 pm

  24. I so agree with you about using real ingredients, but just less of them to cut the fat. I have Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites among my hundreds of cookbooks but haven’t thought to use it in a long time. I’ll have to dust it off!

    Comment by Kath — April 1, 2011 @ 3:00 pm

  25. A friend just sent me a link to this recipe and I made it tonight…absolutely amazing, filling, and healthy! I will now be a follower of your blog :)

    Comment by Lisa — June 1, 2011 @ 10:16 pm

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