Cebollitas

I love grilling. The smell of the charcoal, the crackling sound of the fire roasting the food and the anticipation of what’s about to land on my plate. And whenever we grill in Mexico, my suegro is the king of the barbecue.

At any parrillada at la casa de mis suegros, you can count on one side dish being the same, no matter what kind of meats are chosen for the main dish – cebollitas.

This dish is so simple and easy (and almost totally impossible to mess up even if you’re not a grilling pro), it’s the single dish that most reminds me of a Sunday parrillada in Mexico.

You can add as much or as little lime juice and salsa Maggi, a Worcestershire-style seasoning sauce, as you like – it all depends on your taste buds.

Not only is this dish often served at barbecues and family gatherings, you can also often find them at little street food stands around Mexico. In fact, I’m sure I have photos of a few of them somewhere. Sounds like a future Wordless Wednesday post! (Wink, wink.)… 

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Calabacitas rellenas

Calabacitas rellenas: Grilled Mexican green squash, stuffed with chilaca chiles, chorizo and queso fresco. Get the recipe from theothersideofthetortilla.com.

One of the things I love most about the summer is grilling. It’s an opportunity to do all kinds of different things with meats and vegetables that I don’t get a chance to do during the rest of the year.

During the spring and summer, my local Mexican markets have a wider variety of produce which means endless combinations for creative dinners at my house. I’ve recently been craving calabacita, a zucchini-like squash that has lighter green speckled skin, and is also one of José’s favorites. As I was strolling through the aisles, I was trying to decide what to stuff them with and as soon as I saw chilaca chiles, I knew that was what I wanted.

They’re long and skinny with dark green skin, but you may recognize them better when they’re dried – known as chile pasilla. When fresh, they’re mild with a very subtle sweet flavor and you can char and peel them just the same way you do with a poblano.

This dish is a variation of one that José grew up eating and when I served it for dinner over the weekend, the first thing he said after taking a bite was, “sabe a mi casa.” To me, that’s the ultimate compliment.

TIPS: If you don’t have a grill or want to make this dish during other times of the year, you can also use a grill pan to cook the calabacitas. You can roast and sweat chilaca chiles in the same way you would with poblano chiles.

If you’ve never roasted chiles before, check out my tutorial on how to roast poblano chiles.

This dish can also be made vegetarian-friendly if you substitute soyrizo for the chorizo…. 

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Pico de gallo

When most people think of pico de gallo, they think of a salsa made of tomatoes, diced onion and fresh green chile (such as serrano or jalapeño), lime juice and cilantro.

That salsa is also commonly referred to as salsa Mexicana.

However, in some areas of Mexico if you ask for pico de gallo you’ll end up with a sort of fruit salad-looking thing that you perhaps didn’t intend to order. But make no mistake, this kind of pico de gallo is one you’ll definitely want to try!

It’s a favorite snack in our house–great for a lazy afternoon watching fútbol or even for entertaining guests.

During our last visit to Mexico, one day my suegra made a big batch of this pico de gallo and it was so good that we ate it all before she got a chance to eat any! The truth was, we thought she had saved some downstairs in another dish and given us only a portion of it, so we gobbled it all up. The only solution? To make another batch, of course!

This antojito is especially great for the warm weather months because it’s very refreshing. The crisp, crunchy jicama is the base of the recipe, with cucumbers, diced onion, serrano chile and oranges for a unique salad. The citrusy dressing is a perfect mix of tart and sweet, with a sprinkle of tajín or dash of salt and chile powder on top to round out the flavor…. 

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Easy Esquites

Easy, healthy esquites recipe (roasted corn, chile piquin, cotija cheese, lime juice) from theothersideofthetortilla.comThe weather is getting warmer and that can only mean one thing: an explosion of Mexican street food carts popping up on every corner in the neighborhood where I do all my grocery shopping.

Among the carts that make my mouth water the most is one from which the sweet smell of roasted corn wafts through the spring air – and through my car window enticing me to stop for a quick treat. Yep, you guessed it: esquites.

The key ingredients of this antojito are roasted corn, lime juice, salt and dried ground chile piquin. And then there are the customizations and variations on the snack that can make it so unique from place to place. Sometimes sauteed with butter or onions and epazote, it can also be topped with mayonesa or crema Mexicana. And my favorite touch: a sprinkle of queso cotija, a dry, crumbly cheese with a little bite.

It’s usually served in a Styrofoam or plastic cup on the street, but don’t let the simple presentation fool you. Serve this at a spring or summer backyard barbecue and impress your guests with this simple treat they’re sure to love. Or just make it at home as a weekend snack!

Part of the beauty of this dish is that you can make changes or adjustments to your own tastes very easily without compromising any kind of measurements or balance so long as you follow the base of the recipe by roasting the corn either with butter or by adding a little water to the corn once you’ve cut it to help create a little juice. The portions of the lime juice, chile and toppings is up to you. The end result should be a sweet, sour, salty and spicy taste in every bite…. 

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Travel Tuesday: Antojitos en Aguascalientes

Last summer, I traveled to Aguascalientes to visit José’s abuelita for her 90th birthday. And of the many things I discovered while visiting this centrally-located city (and state), I learned that antojitos are king! Antojitos are like the Mexican cousin to Spanish tapas.

This past week, the Mexico Tourism Board in Chicago began a campaign called “Share Mexico/Comparte México” to educate the public about each of Mexico’s 31 states and the Distrito Federal. Each week will promote a new state and I’ll be blogging about all the states that I’ve visited to share my experiences. The first week is all about Aguascalientes, and I’m so happy to have the chance to share some photos from my trip.

There are several typical antojitos that you’ll see on just about every menu in Aguascalientes. In any lonchería or cenaduría, you’ll find some version of each of these dishes:


Enchiladas estilo Aguascalientes’n – These enchiladas are filled with chicken and cheese, and the tortilla is bathed in a chile mixture and lightly fried (just enough to make it pliable) before they’re stuffed. Usually, they’re topped with lettuce, diced tomato, cheese and crema Mexicana, and served with a generous side of potatoes and carrots, sort of cooked hash brown-style…. 

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