Note: I am away on vacation, so I am re-posting my Cinco de Maya recipe from 2009.
Cinco de Mayo or the Fifth of May is not really Mexican Independence Day, as many people believe. Instead, it commemorates the 1862 victory by Mexican forces, including ordinary citizens, over French soldiers. This battle La Batalla de Puebla or The Battle of Puebla took place on May 5th. This day is considered by many Mexicans (and those with Mexican ties) as an important cultural event. From a culinary perspective, it is a wonderful â€œexcuseâ€ to create a Mexican meal that is both delicious and nutritious, or reflects my motto, The Good Taste of Health.
Note: The menu below can be expanded or contracted, depending on how ambitious you feel. Since I find cooking a kind of meditation in motion, I like the idea of cutting and chopping the salad bar ingredients, but you are free to buy many of these items already prepared. Trader Joeâ€™s is a good place to purchase shredded carrots, shredded cabbage, etc. so donâ€™t be intimidated by the number of ingredients or their preparation. Also, although some of the items may not be traditionally Mexican, they seem to fit with the meal, so I have taken some culinary liberties. Feel free to do the same.
Utensils: Cutting board & knife, grater, bowls, pot for rice and pot for beans
Prep. Time: Varied, depending on which items you choose, but allow about 45 minutes.
Cooking Time: About 35 minutes to cook rice and beans, although they may be cooked ahead of time and served at room temperature if the weather is warm.
Ingredients for Salad Bar
one package corn, wheat, or rice tortillas, warmed in the oven or quickly warmed on a cast iron pan
1-2 cups shredded cabbage or lettuce
1-2 grated carrots (Or substitute Broccoli Slaw from Trader Joeâ€™s, which has carrots in it)
Sprouts of choice (optional)
Sliced black and/or green olives (if canned, drain well first.)
1 cup slivered bell peppers or a small container of mixed sweet peppers
one avocado, mashed with garlic, lemon, salt & pepper (or substitute ready made guacamole)
one cup chick peas and/or one cup black/pinto beans, cooked
one-two cups cooked Spanish rice, brown rice, or white rice (your choice)
Optional Side Items:
Cooked tofu, chicken or fish, sliced (The last 2 items are a nod to my non-vegetarian son
Corn on the cob
Salsa and or tabasco
Sour Cream or Yogurt
Shredded cheese (I purchased Monterey Jack because it is spicy)
1. Arrange all the salad bar ingredients in bowls or small dishes in a circle with the tortillas in the center.
2. Add whatever optional items you wish to use. Some will be served on the side, such as corn on the cob
3. Make your tortilla wrap using any of the items on the table. For example, I spread my warm tortilla with avocado, top that with some black beans, rice, and olives; then I top that with broccoli slaw and sprouts. If itâ€™s not too full to wrap, then wrap it up and enjoy. Otherwise, eat the tortilla as an open-faced Mexican feast.
4. You can also create a dish of beans, rice, salsa, and sour cream as a side dish. The tofu (or chicken or fish) can also be added to the tortilla or added to the beans & rice dish.
Note: The best feature of this meal is that you can create whatever kind of feast you want, choosing any of the above ingredients separately, because nothing is mixed together. It is a perfect meals for picky eaters as well as those who like a wide variety of foods to pick from. Salud!
P.S. This photo was taken when we visited my son and his wife in Nevada in 2009. If our current travel plans go according to our schedule we will be visiting them again while on this May’s trip.