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"Mexican" menu -- Side dishes? Appetizers?

One of my 'standard' menus when I have guests over is tex-mex / mexican themed. I generally make tofu-spinach enchiladas, corn bread muffins, and a big pot of mexican rice. It all ends up tasting pretty good, but it's so... orangey-yellow. I'm not exactly an ace in the kitchen, so those three things are probably about all I can handle prepping as the guests arrive. Any ideas (vegetarian) for other side dishes or appetizers that would fit this menu and that I can prepare ahead of schedule (beyond a chips & salsa kind of thing) that wouldn't be orangey-yellow, mushy, or ultra-cheesy? How about a dessert idea or two? TIA...

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  1. how about doing some black beans along with the the enchiladas and corn bread, instead of the rice (just since you have so many starches there already)? and bowls of red onion, guacamole, and sour cream alongside it all? or maybe use blue corn tortillas instead of the regular corn tortillas in your enchiladas?

    you also might want to consider chopping up a jalapeno or two and tossing it into your cornbread batter, to add some pretty green specks (bell pepper would work as well.)

    1. What about a salad? I've a great recipe for romain,avacado, tomatoe and corn salad with an avacado,lime and chili powder dressing. A great salad, colorful,healthy,easy and can be made ahead of time. I'll post the recipe if you like.

      4 Replies
      1. re: jackie de

        Sure, please do! These kinds of responses are exactly what I need... A few suggestions to jog my brain into gear...

        1. re: spyturtle008

          o-k here goes the recipe for:

          Romain, Avacado and corn salad.
          1 small head romain lettuce, cut into 1/2 in. strips
          1 1/2 cups fresh corn
          1 cup cherry tomatoes,halved
          1 avacado, peeled, pitted and cut into 1/2in. cubes
          1 T. fresh lime juice
          1/2 tea. chili powder
          1/2 tea. sugar
          2 tea. oilve oil
          Place lettuce, corn and tomatoes in bowl. Add 3/4 of the avacado.
          In a blender, puree rest of avacado,3T. water,lime juice,olive oil,sugar, and chili powder. Season with course salt and pepper.
          Adjust seasonings to taste. Pour over salad and toss gently.

          I use frozen corn in winter for this, just defrost. I've also added crumbled goat or blue cheese on top of salad. If making in advance, I'd wait to cut avacado and make dressing until time to serve.

        2. re: jackie de

          A cold black bean, corn, tomato, avocado salad with cilantro, onions, and jalapenos chopped up in it would be good. If I'm short on time, I buy pico de gallo at a taqueria and add it to beans and corn. Quesidllas with some fancier cheese could also work. I also like to do a big green salad and add citrus segments to it.

          1. re: Candice

            Ditto the above poster. I love a good corn salad. It's very refreshing and light, especially with such a heavy meal.

        3. You've got to try Robert Lauriston's Cilantro Rice...delicious AND beautiful...here's the link:


          Okay, not everyone loves cilantro but you could make your regular mexican rice and some of this, too!

          1. Add some guacamole to the apps. Serve wedges of jicama and other veg sticks for dipping. Jicama is also delicious with a squeeze of lime and sprinkled with chili powder. You can also make a number of good soups using a vegetable broth base, Kitchen Basics is a good brand and lower in sodium than a lot of prepared stocks. Tortilla soup, with out the chicken, but all of the good garnishes, Caldo Tlalpeno which is a smoky, use a bit of chipotle in the veg stock for that smokiness, with chickpeas and fresh avocado, Crema de Elote...roasted corn chowder wirh roasted peppers are a few suggestions.

            1. I made some Mexican chocolate brownies with pine nuts a couple years ago that were amazing. I'd also consider making sopaipillas or flan.

              1. Appetizers:
                Queso Fundido-goat cheese, cream cheese & toasted pinenuts mixed together and formed into a disc. Put in a baking/serving dish, pour your favorite salsa around it. Bake in 350F oven for 15-20 minutes. Garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve immediately with chips, bread or crackers. I actually pour red sauce & green sauce from opposite sides so I get a cool yin-yang look. People love this, even the "babies" who don't like spicy stuff 'cause they can just scoop the hot cheese from the middle.

                Stuffed Jalapenos-stuffed with cream cheese & bacon or whatever filling your refrigerator yields.

                Calabcitas - zucchini sauteed with poblanos (or canned chiles if that's all you can do), onion, cumin & whatever other Mexican seasonings you want.
                Jicama Slaw - jicama, red cabbage, green cabbage, fresh lime juice, cilantro, Mexican seasonings, etc. Its very tasty and refreshing. (you can even cream an avocado into the dressing!)

                Caesar Salad? Borracho Beans? Roast Potatoes con Rajas?

                Here's my South by Southwest Menu

                1. A big spinach salad with a citrus dressing and sprinkled with sesame seeds. Just like at Fonda San Miguel in Austin!

                  1. Actual easy sides commonly served in Mexico....



                    Ensalada Ranchera (Romaine, Pico de Gallo (lots of Cilantro), a little bit of raw tomatoe puree, lime juice & salt)

                    Bandera (Sliced tomato, avocado & fresco cheese arranged like the flag drizzled with Salsa Verde & chopped fresh Mexican oregano or Mexican basil)

                    Warm Vegetable Dishes:

                    Roasted Mushrooms brushed with Mole Sauce
                    Greens & Carmelized Onions braised in Salsa Verde
                    Mexican Zucchini braised in Tomato-Chipotle Sauce
                    Cauliflower Fritters served in seared Tomato-Jalapeno sauce


                    Bean Tostadas topped with shredded romaine, fresco & cotija cheese & a tomatatillo-ancho-arbol salsa.

                    Tostadas or Toasted Bolillo slices with any of the vegetables I mentioned above.

                    Authentic Nachos (Fondued Cheese, Pickled Onions, Carrots & Jalapenos over Chips)