Three tacos, three salsas for Cinco de Mayo

Posted Wednesday, May. 01, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Carne asada tacos Makes enough for 10 to 12 tacos 1 1/2 pounds flank steak 3 cloves garlic, minced A big handful of cilantro, chopped Juice of 1 lime 1 jalapeño, finely chopped 2 tablespoons olive oil Corn tortillas Sea salt and pepper 1. Put the steak in a plastic bag and add garlic, cilantro, lime juice, jalapeño and olive oil. Evenly coat the steak with the marinade. Let rest for 1 hour. 2. Right before you’re ready to eat, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wrap tortillas in foil and warm for about 10 minutes. 3. Preheat grill to high (500 degrees). When it’s hot, salt and pepper the steak and cook according to your preference (and the steak’s thickness). Because flank steak is usually pretty thin, this should take about 10 to 12 minutes. Let steak rest on a plate, covered with foil, for 5 minutes before slicing it against the grain into thin strips. Serve right away with warm corn tortillas. Nutritional information per taco, based on 10: 210 calories, 11 grams fat, 14 grams carbohydrates, 15 grams protein, 35 milligrams cholesterol, 94 milligrams sodium, 45 percent of calories from fat. Suggested salsa: Roasted red bell pepper and onion
Roasted red pepper and onion salsa Makes enough for 10 to 12 tacos 2 red bell peppers, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces 1 largish white onion, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces 2 tablespoons olive oil Sea salt and pepper Preheat oven to broil and line a cookie sheet with foil. Place bell pepper and onion pieces onto cookie sheet, add oil and a bit of salt and pepper, and toss. Let cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until edges of peppers start to blacken and onions are soft. Let cool. Nutritional information per serving, based on 10: 36 calories, 3 grams fat, 2 grams carbohydrates, trace protein, no cholesterol, 13 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber, 69 percent of calories from fat.
Grilled salmon tacos Makes 8 to 10 tacos 10 corn tortillas 1 pound sockeye salmon (skin on) 2 tablespoons olive oil Sea salt and pepper 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wrap tortillas in foil and warm for about 10 minutes. 2. Preheat grill to high (500 degrees). Lightly coat salmon with olive oil. Salt and pepper skinless side. 3. Cook salmon skin side down for 3 to 4 minutes, then flip to the other side for 3 to 4 more minutes. This should yield a medium-rare piece of salmon. Let fish rest for a few minutes under foil before serving. To serve, flake off chunks with a fork and place on corn tortillas. Nutritional information per serving, based on 8: 195 calories, 9 grams fat, 15 grams carbohydrates, 14 grams protein, 35 milligrams cholesterol, 92 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber, 42 percent of calories from fat. Suggested salsa: Asparagus-avocado
Asparagus-avocado salsa Makes enough for 8 to 10 tacos 1 (16-ounce) bunch of asparagus, ends trimmed and chopped into 2-inch pieces 2 tablespoons olive oil Sea salt and pepper 1 avocado, diced About 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped jalapeño Small handful of cilantro Juice of 1 lime 1. Preheat oven to broil and line a cookie sheet with foil. Put asparagus pieces on cookie sheet, add olive oil and a big pinch of sea salt and pepper, and toss. Cook until asparagus tips begin to brown, about 15 minutes. Let cool. 2. Gently mix cooled asparagus pieces with the rest of the ingredients in a medium-size bowl. If serving right away, leave at room temperature; otherwise, cover with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge. Nutritional information per serving, based on 8: 83 calories, 7 grams fat, 4 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram protein, no cholesterol, 20 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber, 76 percent of calories from fat.
Kale and black bean tacos Makes 8 to 10 tacos 8 to 10 corn tortillas 1 tablespoon coconut oil 1 garlic clove, minced 1 (15-ounce) can organic black beans, rinsed Pinch of cumin Sea salt and pepper 1 small bunch of kale, leaves removed, chopped and rinsed 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wrap tortillas in foil and warm for about 10 minutes. 2. Put coconut oil and minced garlic in a large skillet. Turn heat to medium-low. Let cook until you can smell the garlic, then add beans, cumin, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for a few minutes, until it’s warmed through. Add kale to the skillet and toss. Let cook until kale wilts, about 5 minutes. 3. Put mixture on corn tortillas and serve warm. Nutritional information per serving, based on 8: 138 calories, 3 grams fat, 23 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams protein, no cholesterol, 236 milligrams sodium, 5 grams dietary fiber, 19 percent of calories from fat. Suggested salsa: Cherry tomato pico de gallo
Cherry tomato pico de gallo Makes enough for 8 to 10 tacos 10 ounces cherry tomatoes, quartered 2 green onions, chopped Handful of cilantro, chopped 1 jalapeño, finely chopped 1 garlic clove, minced Juice of 1 or 2 limes Sea salt and pepper Toss everything together in a bowl and taste, adjusting seasonings if necessary. Let rest at room temperature. Toss and taste again right before serving. Nutritional information per serving, based on 8: 13 calories, trace fat, 3 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram protein, no cholesterol, 6 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber, 10 percent of calories from fat.

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Most of y’all know I love slipping a French accent into much of what I do (after six years in Paris, it’s inevitable).

For Cinco de Mayo, especially, a touch of Frenchiness is necessary — and totally tongue in cheek, since the whole purpose of this holiday (coming up Sunday) is to celebrate the Mexican army’s defeat of the much bigger and better-equipped French force in Puebla in 1862.

If that’s not enough reason to hire a mariachi band for your backyard party, I don’t know what is.

So let’s all wear berets, make a pitcher of margaritas and warm up some tortillas.

On le menu: three tacos and three salsas, representing the green, white and red of the Mexican flag. All are easy to put together at the very last minute (if, for instance, you’ve just gotten up from your afternoon siesta and felt moved to invite a dozen or so friends for dinner). The salsas can be put together while the grill’s getting hot. All of them are mix-and-matchable.

And if you happen to have leftover salsa, just add whatever you’ve got to a few eggs and some milk (or cream if you want to be fancy), pour it into a prebaked pie or tart crust, and bake for 35 to 45 minutes at 400 degrees for a Frenchified Mexican quiche — olé!

For dessert, keep it simple: a scoop of ice cream topped with a splash of Kahlua plus crushed pralines from your favorite Mexican restaurant. French vanilla, bien sûr.

Ellise Pierce is the Cowgirl Chef and author of “Cowgirl Chef: Texas Cooking With a French Accent” (Running Press, $25). www.cowgirlchef.com; @cowgirlchef.

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