Budget Gourmet Meals Inspired by the Southwest
Tired of the same tortilla soup and smothered chicken, but still looking for some Southwest inspired gourmet dishes to spice up your diet? Help is on the way.
Southwestern cuisine is heavily influenced by Spanish colonial settlers and Native American and Mexican cultures who inhabited the area centuries ago. These rich cultural influences have created many different styles of Southwestern cuisine with enough choices to satisfy the choosiest palates. Let’s help turn your all-to-typical tortilla soup into a guiltless gourmet meal you and your family will love.
Here are some suggestions to help transform your daily meals into new creations that won’t hurt your food budget.
Typical Southwest ingredients
The concept of gourmet cooking involves taking traditional dishes and transforming them by introducing new flavors or throwing an entirely new set of ingredients together, and watching delicious sparks fly. Take a typical Italian dish, for example, like lasagna. Add in a few choice Southwestern ingredients like corn, black beans and chilies, top it off with Oaxaca sauce and you’ve just created an exciting variation on a traditional theme.
This is just one technique that delivers an affordable, tasty change for everyday dishes you’ve grown tired of.
Try variations on the same ingredient
If Southwestern gourmet cuisine is one of your personal favorites, find interesting ways to experiment with ingredients to bring them into your trusted recipes. Add sour cream or heavy cream to thicken and tone down the heat of spicy chilies, and use pork as a substitute for beef in meat dishes.
Try some of these substitutions in your favorite dishes for a little more Southwestern flavor:
• Core ingredients: Agave, Black Beans, Corn, Figs, Mango, Nopales, Pumpkin, Sunflower Seeds
• Chiles: Anaheim, Poblano, Ancho, Pasillas, Guajillos, Jalapenos, Chipotles, Serranos, Chiles de árbol, Cayenne, Habaneros
• Cheese: Queso Fresco-Casero, Panela, Queso Blanco, Oaxaca, Asadero
• Herbs and Spices: Cumin, Coriander, Cilantro, Epazote, Annato Seed,
Experiment with new ingredients
Southwest style cooking also has some amazingly versatile ingredients that enhance the flavors of the foods you eat. Tomatillo, yucca, jicama, blue corn, nopales, and cactus are just a few of the delicious possibilities. With such choices, you’ll be looking for ways to use these ingredients during breakfast, lunch, or dinner, in snacks, breads, and deserts too.
These are ingredients easily found in local stores or specialty grocers. They’re also ingredients that are inexpensive and can be stored safely for a long time, increasing the value of what you buy. Southwestern gourmet cuisine introduces new ingredients to experiment with, and may open your eyes up to new possibilities with the same meals you’ve grown tired of recently.
Budget gourmet dishes from the Southwest are easy and inexpensive to make and quick to prepare. Substitute some of these unique ingredients with your favorite dishes and discover a new style of gourmet cuisine you’ll enjoy more than you thought possible.