The roots of classic Mexican cuisine began with the Aztecs. It's high on vegetables and (surprise!) low in fat.
Credit: Randy Mayor

When Cortes first encountered the Aztecs, he was more interested in gold than food. But if he had taken the time to peek under a few lids during his conquests, he also would have unearthed the riches of classic Mexican cocina (cuisine)―a healthy diet that was mostly meatless and revolved around native crops such as corn, tomatoes, chiles, and beans.

Today's Mexican food (thanks in part to the cooking styles of many Mexican-American eateries) is known for its high fat content. But here, our vegetable pies not only blend the various colors and flavors of authentic Mexican fare, but they also give it that light touch. Like Cortes, you too can discover an ancient Mexican treasure for the first time.

Meatless Mexican Meal (serves 6)

Spicy rice

Game Plan

1. Prepare brownies and bake ahead of time; store in an airtight container.

2. Grate orange rind and section oranges the night before serving. Cover each separately and refrigerate.

3. Prepare salad at least 2 1/2 hours before serving to allow for 2 hours marinating time.

4. Prepare vegetables for Mexican Vegetable Pies.

5. Prepare and cook spicy rice; while rice cooks, prepare and cook vegetable pies.

6. Serve after-dinner coffee, and pass around a big plate of the brownies in a more casual setting away from the table, like the den.