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what to make when

What to make when... you want vibrant and flavourful Mexican-inspired food at home

From steak tacos to cumin-spiced baked eggs.

WE’VE ALL WITNESSED the huge rise in Mexican-inspired cuisine here in Ireland over the last few years, and we’re now lucky enough to have some great Mexican restaurants and food trucks on our doorstep.

We also now have easier access to many of the spices that can be used to create some wonderful dishes at home. Things like chili powder, ground cumin, oregano and paprika are all useful spices to keep in the cupboard, as you will find at least one of these in almost any Mexican-inspired recipe you come across. 

The majority of meals that Irish diners are familiar with are more Tex Mex than traditional Mexican cuisine – though, of course, both are undoubtedly tasty. Below, you’ll find a delicious mix of both types of recipes. 

From easy fajitas to baked eggs, these quick and easy Mexican- inspired recipes will satisfy all tastebuds. 

1. Chorizo quesadillas: Start off by frying some sliced chorizo in a hot pan until crisp. There’s no need for oil, since there’s already enough fat in the chorizo, which will melt during the cooking process. In a bowl, mix together sweetcorn, chopped red onion, chili powder and a spoonful of tomato paste, then add the cooked chorizo and mix everything together. Lay a tortilla on a plate, and spread the mixture over it evenly, then top with grated cheese, and place a second tortilla over the top to sandwich the filling together. Fry the quesadilla in a non-stick frying pan for 3-5 minutes on each side, until the cheese has melted and the wraps have turned golden. Serve with sour cream and jalapeños on the side for an extra spicy kick!

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2. Traybake chicken fajitas: Making fajitas in the oven can be much less time consuming than using pans, and will result in less washing up – a win-win! In a bowl, make the marinade by mixing together a generous splash of olive oil, chili powder, cumin, oregano, crushed garlic and seasoning. Add thinly sliced chicken fillets to a baking tray along with sliced red onion and peppers, and toss in the marinade. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, at a high heat, until the chicken is cooked through, then remove and add to a bowl. Serve sharing style, with warmed flour tortillas and a selection of salsa, cheese, sour cream, guacamole and jalapeños.

3. Steak tacos: These flavoursome and fresh steak tacos can be whipped up in less than 20 minutes and make a delicious sharing style dinner! To start off with, toss some thinly sliced steak in olive oil, seasoning, crushed garlic and chili powder, and fry in a hot pan for about 3-4 minutes until browned and cooked to your liking. Spoon the meat into warmed corn tortillas or taco shells, and top with grated cheese, sliced avocado, lettuce and homemade salsa. I love the sound of this spicy pineapple salsa by Melissa Hemsley, which would make a delicious accompaniment to the savoury flavours.

4. Chilli-topped sweet potatoes: Topped sweet potatoes make a colourful and tasty supper and are an excellent way to use up leftover vegetables. First off, coat the potatoes in olive oil and bake for 45 minutes until cooked through. For the topping, fry finely chopped peppers, onion and garlic in a pan until soft, then add in a tin of black beans, a tin of chopped tomatoes, a teaspoon of ground cumin, and seasoning. Allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the sauce has thickened. Cut the potatoes in half lengthways and top with the chilli mixture, along with some grated cheese, sour cream, guacamole and a squeeze of lime juice.

5. Mexican baked eggs: Baked eggs make a really impressive brunch for friends, or an equally delicious dinner. Heat some oil in an ovenproof pan and fry sliced peppers, onion and crushed garlic for about five minutes until soft. Add a pinch of ground cumin, seasoning, some chili flakes and a tin of chopped tomatoes and allow to boil. Turn down the heat, then simmer for about eight minutes until the sauce has thickened, then make four wells and crack an egg into each one. Allow to simmer for another minute, then pop the dish into a hot oven for another 5-10 minutes, until the eggs are cooked to your liking. Scatter over some fresh coriander and jalapeño, and serve with corn tortillas, or homemade guacamole as seen in this delicious recipe by Breakfast at Caroline’s.

More what to make when… you’re ready to shake up your lasagne recipe

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