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Cinco de Mayo Food Fiesta

Updated on March 20, 2011

Each May 5th, Americans flock to Mexican restaurants for margaritas, burritos and other festive fare. But how many of them know why that day is a regular fiesta? It takes little encouragement in this country for people to have a party - no matter the true meaning of the occasion. Call us a festive people if you will!

Historically, though, May 5th is an important date in Mexico. It marks the day in 1862 when the Mexican Army defeated the French. While the army was eventually defeated by the occupying French forces, the Batalla de Puebla that they won was an important symbol of unity. Since then, patriotic people of Mexican heritage have remembered their ancestors' bravery with parades, feasts and dancing.

You don't have to have Mexican heritage to join in the fun, but it's always nice to know why you find yourself eating special food on a certain day. Besides margaritas, beer and burritos, try some other Latino-inspired dishes. May is also National Salsa Month, so it's a great opportunity to taste some dishes that are new to you.

Mix up a batch of easy Black Bean Salsa or for something different, a Charred Tomato-Mint Salsa which takes on all the wonderful char flavors from the grille and incorporates them into a savory and spicy salsa. You don't have to just eat these with chips, as there are endless ways to truly enjoy your Cinco de Mayo salsa fiesta. Here are some ideas for flavorful combinations:

  • Spoon your favorite salsa over grilled fish or chicken. Fruit versions, such as Grilled Pineapple Salsa, are especially good with firm-fleshed fish such as swordfish.
  • Top a burger with tomato salsa instead of ketchup for a zing.
  • In a blender container, purée salsa until almost smooth. Use as a dip for grilled or roasted vegetables.
  • Spoon some black bean or tomato salsa over a cheese omelet for color and flavor.
  • Stir salsa into hot cooked rice for an instant change from plain rice. Serve with meat or vegetables as usual.

Now that you've got the salsa under control, here's a great recipe for Cinco de Mayo or any warm evening!

Cancun Cones

A great recipe for an on-the-go meal:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound flank or top sirloin steak
1 can (16 ounces) no fat Rosarita refried beans
4 (8-inch) flour tortillas
1/2 cup tomato salsa
1 small red or green bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
1 avocado, pitted and sliced
1/2 cucumber cut into thin sticks
Cilantro and/or oregano sprigs

Heat oil in nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add steak and pan-fry about 10 minutes until steak is cooked to desired doneness, turning once. Meanwhile, heat beans as can directs. Place tortillas in plastic bag and microwave about 1 minute to heat. Spread tortillas with beans and salsa, dividing equally. Thinly slice steak and arrange on tortillas with remaining ingredients, dividing equally. Roll into cone shapes and wrap bottom halves in paper napkins. Eat out-of-hand. Serve with additional salsa.

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