I have a very fraught relationship with Mexican food, I have to admit. I am left completely cold by the uniform tortilla-with-meat-and-random-stuff stuff that you get in Mexican-themed restaurants. Seriously, nothing can be improved by adding a few complimentary nacho chips. Over the last months and years, however, I have come to accept that there is more to Mexican food than tacos and tortillas. Being rather lazy by nature, I had to give myself a little pressure to get myself into attempting to make Mexican food, which I did by signing up to review the incredibly beautiful Mexico: The Cookbook by Margarita Carrillo Arronte on Food52. Don’t touch this tome if your New Year’s resolution was to not buy any more cookbooks: the feel of it, its weight, the vibrant colours, al these will make it unputdowneable. And that’s without even opening it. My Mexican friend kindly earmarked her favourite dishes in it before dashing off to Mexico for two months (how inconvenient is that?!), leaving me to pick up the pieces. On the upside, she keeps sending me pictures and short films of themselves having fun on the beach. Notwithstanding, over the next few weeks you can expect a right Mexican fiesta here, with not a nacho in sight. Molletes are simple open sandwiches, filled with mashed black beans, cheese and topped with a raw tomato salsa. Street food, I admit, rather than haute cuisine, but incredibly delicious as well as healthy. Isn’t it interesting how people tend to pick such simple dishes when asked for their favourite childhood food?
Raw Tomato Salsa – Salsa Tomate Roja Crudo (serves 4)
- 200g red tomatoes, finely chopped
- 2 tbs onion, freshly chopped
- 5 green chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
- 6 tbs coriander/cilantro, finely chopped
- salt, to taste
Begin by preparing the salsa, which lifts this dish from the ordinary healthy vegetarian sandwich into a celebration of tastes and textures: simply mix the chopped ingredients and season with the salt. Carillo suggests to use 6 serrano chillies, but I had to substitute them for something a) available and b) edible by a wimp like myself (the Chilean contingent of our family tends to have a chilli with every meal, chewing away at it with their dinner). I started off with a bunch of ‘mild’ chillies, probably the ones used in Mexico for preparing baby meals. Using rubber gloves to deseed them, I stopped short of donning a face mask but still clearly overdid the Health-and-Safety thing as the chillies ended up so mild I had to add two jalapeños. This time the gloves made sense.
Molletes – Cheese and Beans on Toast (serves 4)
- 2 tbs vegetable or corn oil
- 2 onions, chopped
- 275g cooked black beans, drained and slightly mashed
- olive oil
- salt, to taste
- 4 rolls or baguette pieces, halved
- 120g crumbled or grated cheese – mild cheddar, emmental or, if you’re lucky, oaxaca or chihuahua cheese
- Raw tomato salsa
Start by softening the onions in the vegetable oil unit soft and golden. Add the beans (if using dried beans for the first time, check out my Gallo Pinto recipe to see how to prepare them) and keep stirring and mashing them until you get a thick purée. I like to have some texture on mine, so I didn’t quite mash it for that long. Add 4 tbs of the olive oil, to keep it moist, as well as some water, if necessary. I added some of the leftover cooking water of the beans. Season with salt. Preheat your oven or grill. Remove some of the soft insides to make room for the beans and slightly toast the bread. , Drizzle a little olive oil over the bread and add the beans mixture. Sprinkle the cheese over the beans and return them into the oven to melt the cheese. Serve with the salsa for a healthy snack or starter. I’ll be bringing mine along to Angie‘s for the first Fiesta Friday party of the year: The party is being co-hosted by Mr Fitz of Cooking with Mr Fitz-fame – who is quite partial to all foods Mexican – and Kalia, who promotes healthy and gluten free food on GF life 24/7. I’m glad that this recipe might fulfil her requirements, once you substitute the white bread! I might even use some of my sourdough bread for a spot of fusion food – see you all at the Novice Gardener!