Game Night and Taco Night collided recently at our house for an evening of riotous fun with friends. A mix-and-match buffet of tacos and green salad gave our guests plenty of options to customize their plates: two proteins, multiple cheeses and salsas, various veggies, and a choice of salad dressing. Everyone got exactly what they wanted. (This is a good tactic when cooking for guests with dietary restrictions – it’s all about having options.) Here’s the spread:
- Chicken Carnitas and Grilled Marinated Flank Steak (this recipe is a perennial favorite in our house – try it!)
- Green Salad with chopped jicama, sweet peppers, cukes and tomatoes
- Mix-ins for Tacos and/or Salads: Homemade pickled corn; Seasoned black beans; Toasted pepitas
- Cheeses: Shredded Chihuahua and Manchego cheeses
- Veggies: Grilled onions and peppers; shredded lettuce; chopped tomatoes
- Sauces/Dressings: Homemade salsa verde; Smoky red salsa from a jar; Guacamole; Chipotle ranch salad dressing; Simple vinaigrette
- Corn and flour tortillas; Tortilla chips
Click on the photos to enlarge them and read the captions.
Everyone was united with love for the salsa verde, the pickled corn, and the chipotle ranch salad dressing.
These stellar condiments are so good you’ll be proud to serve them for a family dinner, a fancy dinner, or just you and a bag of tortilla chips in front of the TV.
Why These Work: All three are quick, easy, and make ahead – souped-up versions of your Tex-Mex favorites improved by home cooking.
Recipe source: Alison Roman for Bon Appétit
Combine 2 small dried chiles, 1 seeded thinly sliced jalapeño, 1/4 thinly sliced medium red onion, 2 cups corn kernels (from about 2 ears), 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves with tender stems (NOTE: We’re not cilantro fans, so substituted Mexican oregano; parsley would also be fine), 1/4 cup fresh lime juice, and 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper in a heatproof 1-quart jar.
Bring 1/2 cup white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1 teaspoon sugar, and 3/4 cup water to a boil; pour over corn. (Add water to cover, if needed.)
Seal jar. Let cool; chill. Will keep up to 1 month. Click on the photos to enlarge them and read the captions.
Salsa Verde (Roasted Tomatillo Salsa)
Recipe source: Rick Bayless, Fiesta at Rick’s cookbook
Yield: 1 cup
- 8 ounces (3 to 4 medium) tomatillos, husked and rinsed
- Fresh hot green chiles to taste (1 or 2 serranos or 1 jalapeno), stemmed
- 2 large garlic cloves, peeled
- 6 sprigs of fresh cilantro (thick bottom stems cut off), roughly chopped
- 1 small white onion, finely chopped
- Roast the tomatillos, chile(s) and garlic on a rimmed baking sheet 4 inches below a very hot broiler, until blotchy black and softening (they’ll be turning from lime green to olive), about 5 minutes. Flip them over and roast the other side.
- Cool, then transfer everything to a blender, including all the delicious juice the tomatillos have exuded during roasting. Add the cilantro and 1/4 cup water, then blend to a coarse puree. Scoop into a serving dish.
- Rinse the onion under cold water, then shake to remove excess moisture. Stir into the salsa and season with salt, usually 1/2 teaspoon.
- To make ahead: After pureeing the vegetables in the blender, store in refrigerator for up to 5 days. At serving time, add the chopped onion and herbs plus a little water to thin the puree as needed, mix and taste. Add salt as needed, usually ½ teaspoon.
Chipotle Ranch Salad Dressing
Recipe source: Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman) for Food Network
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup Italian (flat-leaf) parsley leaves, minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh dill, minced
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Dash hot sauce
- 1 to 2 chipotle peppers
- 1 clove garlic, smashed
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup buttermilk (as needed for desired consistency)
- In a food processor or blender, combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, parsley, dill, chives, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, vinegar, paprika, salt, cayenne, hot sauce, chipotle peppers and garlic.
- Add the buttermilk to the desired consistency and blend.
- Chill for a couple of hours before serving, thinning with more buttermilk if needed.