Superfast Southwestern Recipes
By: Text: Jason Horn and Cooking Light Editors
Dark-meat chicken is flavored with cumin, topped with sliced cabbage, and served in corn tortillas to give these tacos authentic flavor. You can grill the chicken a day or two ahead and reheat or use leftovers for the filling, but if you don't, try heating the tortillas on the grill; they'll have a nice toasted texture.
A steaming bowl of this hearty soup is a natural for a cold fall or winter night, but it can also be a great choice for dining alfresco in springtime or on a cooler summer night. At 11 minutes' cooking time, you can put it together at the last minute with ease. Serve with corn bread, baked tortilla chips, or crusty French bread.
Big flavor and lots of gooey melted cheese, but less than 10 grams of fat? Fantastic! The tart, juicy sweetness of mango and the fire of poblano combine to make every bite of these quesadillas a treat. They also make a great hors d'oeuvre for a summertime party.
The sugar in the spice rub for the shrimp caramelizes during cooking, giving them a nice charred look and deep flavor in addition to their chile heat. The fresh and easy relish balances that heat with its own sweet-sour flavor and crisp texture. Try the rub with any quick-cooking protein, from cubed chicken or pork to tofu chunks or even canned beans.
This is a cowboy meal―spiced grilled steak piled atop zesty beans―and guaranteed to fill you up. But we managed to keep it under 300 calories per serving. Pair with corn bread, fill flour tortillas for tacos, or try it atop greens as a salad.
Pepper jelly and aromatic spices give your average pork tenderloin a bold new flavor. Serve with a side salad of baby spinach, cilantro leaves, and sliced radish and red onion, dressed with fresh lime juice and olive oil.
A mix of textures is the key to this dish: Flaky fish with a slightly crunchy exterior, crisp cabbage, juicy tomatoes, and firm, chewy tortilla combine in each bite. Each ingredient's fresh flavor stands out, so very little seasoning is needed. Tacos aren't the only way to make this dish―serve the slaw as an entrée salad topped with the fish (or cooked chicken), or use it as an outdoor party side.
You'll probably use all the breast meat from one standard rotisserie chicken for this Mexican stew topped with diced avocado, sliced radishes, and fresh cilantro. Look for canned tomatillos in the Mexican foods section of your supermarket.
You can easily make these from scratch in the time it takes to defrost a frozen veggie burger. The sweet-smoky-spicy ketchup in this recipe is a decidedly Southwestern flavor, and also pairs quite well with sweet potato fries. Other toppings, though, could take the patties in a totally different direction: Try a spicy brown mustard or pesto mayonnaise.
Burritos can be a nutritional powerhouse, combining the benefits of many different ingredients. In this recipe, brown rice is a heart-healthy whole grain, beans add protein and fiber, avocado provides healthy fats, and cheese contributes calcium. Add other vegetables for more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Making chili from scratch in less than 20 minutes is not only possible but easy with this recipe. Garbanzo, kidney, and black beans each offer their own texture and flavor in this warm and comforting dish. A sour-cream-topped bowl of this chili provides only 180 calories, but about a third of a day's fiber.
All-Time Best vegetarian entrée: Falafel may have originated in the Middle East, but this version (one of our all-time best) is distinctly Southwestern, with pinto beans standing in for chickpeas and a generous addition of Monterey Jack cheese. The avocado spread is wonderfully versatile; try it on burgers, cold-cut sandwiches, BLTs, and more.
Tostadas are just as easy to make as tacos, but bring crispy crunch to the party. This dish gives you an explosion of fresh summery taste using ingredients that are generally available year-round. You can also make these as tacos instead; just about any tostada topping can fill tacos, and vice versa.
Clocking in at barely 10 minutes to make, this soup proves no night is too busy for home cooking. It's nice and spicy, with big chunks of tasty tomato. Make a bowl a hearty complete meal by adding cooked rice, barley, or noodles.
Simple to cook, fun to eat, and infinitely variable, tacos should be a weeknight-dinner staple in any busy household. Set up a taco bar with this flavorful filling of caramelized onions, chicken, and earthy mushrooms and whatever other toppings your family likes―sour cream, cheese, salsa, sliced avocado, raw onion or radish, and extra jalapeños are great options.
Summery vegetables, protein-packed eggs, and melty cheese combine in this breakfast designed to sustain a hardworking rancher all morning. This recipe is hearty enough for dinner, and also makes an excellent brunch entrée, but still has less than 250 calories per serving.
Zesty seasonings set these burgers apart, along with an avocado-tomatillo salsa topping that's refreshingly different from ketchup and mustard. Super busy? Make the patties and salsa ahead of time and refrigerate until needed―the burgers only take eight minutes to cook. Better yet, make a double or triple batch and freeze the extra for a no-work dinner later.
This dish is low in both fat (4.5 grams per serving) and effort required (6 minutes of cooking), but it yields wonderful fresh flavor. A topping of chunky guacamole or just cubed avocado could raise these fajitas to an even higher level.
Torta is Spanish for "sandwich"—and is usually a hefty stack of meat, beans, and veggies. Our version doesn't disappoint offering hearty center-cut pork chops, pinto beans, fresh salsa, avocados, and jalapeños all atop a fresh baguette.
This soup is ultra-simple―season black beans and puree with a bottle of salsa―but yields loads of flavor thanks to smoky-spicy chipotle powder and bright, punchy lime juice. Try a Mexican cheese like Chihuahua or Oaxaca in place of the jack if you're feeling adventurous.
A few minutes in a blazing-hot oven gives these chimichangas the same browned, crunchy exterior as traditional deep-frying, but keeps the fat content under 10 grams each. A spicy filling with crumbly queso fresco contributes authentic flavor. A simple side salad topped with your favorite salsa makes a good partner to this dish.
Try something new―underappreciated tomatillos are easy to find at most supermarkets and add authentic Southwestern flavors. The fresh salsa in this dish is an excellent counterpart to the laughably easy two-ingredient chicken breasts, but it also makes a nice taco topping, dip for tortilla chips, or side salad on its own.
Quesadillas are quick to assemble, but if you're cooking them one at a time on the stove, feeding the whole family could take awhile. That's why we broil all of them at once in this recipe―it takes three minutes total. Add five minutes for the bean filling and two for the corn salsa and you've got a 10-minute meal.