Travel Counsellors shares destination-inspired dishes from Mexico and Italy and throws in some local flavour too.
Mexico: chilli enchiladas
This is a Mexican favourite and is a spicy, filling dinner treat with a melted cheese and refried bean topping.
– 4 to 6 tortillas, preferably corn, although flour tortillas will do if that is all you have.
– 400g leftover chilli (or if you have less, add some cooked white rice into it to make it go further).
– 1 small can of refried beans.
– Half a 250g carton of passata. If you have no refried beans or passata, you can substitute with salsa.
– 100g of grated cheddar cheese.
- Heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius (or 180 degrees for a fan oven, or Gas mark 6).
- Lightly grease the inside of a deep and rectangular oven dish.
- Mix the tin of refried beans with the passata and put it to one side.
- Add several spoons of the chilli or chilli and rice mixture in a line down the centre of each tortilla. Roll it up and place it in the oven dish, keeping the fold underneath to prevent it unwrapping while cooking. Continue with the chill and tortillas until all is used and the dish is full.
- Pour the bean and passata mixture over the top of the tortillas and spread evenly across, then top with the grated cheese.
- Bake for around 30 minutes in the oven until the sauce and cheese topping is bubbling and the tortillas are starting to turn golden brown.
- Serve with a side salad, sour cream, salsa and guacamole.
Italy: classic tomato sauce
This sauce is a basic Italian tomato sauce and lends itself as a base to many classic dishes (it can be a pizza base if thickened slightly with a tomato puree, or can be used with minced beef to make the meat layer of a lasagne) or it can be served as a dish in itself with whatever cooked pasta you have. You can add various other ingredients and herbs to it to vary the flavour too.
– 1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped.
– 2 Tbsp oil.
– 1 small carrot, peeled and finely chopped.
– 2 sticks celery, trimmed and finely chopped.
– 500ml passata or 600g of tinned chopped tomatoes.
– Salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Gently fry the onion in the oil for approximately one minute.
- Add the carrot and celery and continue to fry for approximately another two minutes, until the vegetables are all tender and the onion is turning translucent. Do not cook on too high a heat and do not let the vegetables go brown.
- Add the passata or chopped tomatoes and seasoning and bring up to almost boiling, then simmer for around 20-30 minutes until the sauce has thickened. You can add a Tbsp of tomato puree to help thicken the sauce too.
- Once cooked, allow to cool a little then blend until smooth (sauce can be heated up again once blended).
- Serve hot, poured over cooked pasta and sprinkle with grated parmesan if wished. Garlic bread also makes a great accompaniment.
- Add cooked ham, or cooked bacon lardons to the sauce if you want a meat-based dish, or chili flakes and cooked prawns to make a spiced prawn dish.
- Add herbs, such as basil, or oregano to give an alternative flavour, especially if using for lasagne or pizza sauce.
- Add a clove of crushed garlic when frying the vegetables.
South Africa: bunny chow
Bunny chow is a popular South African dish, consisting of a hollowed-out loaf of white bread filled to the brim with authentic Indian curry. The curry element of the dish was brought over by the county’s Indian South African residents and remains true to its origins to this day.
– 2 Tbsp vegetable oil.
– ½ tsp fennel seeds.
– 1 tsp cumin seeds.
– 1 tsp cinnamon.
– 1 tsp paprika.
– 3 cardamom pods.
– 1 bay leaf.
– 2 Tbsp curry powder.
– 1 onion, finely chopped.
– 1 Tbsp finely grated ginger.
– 1 Tbsp crushed garlic.
– 500g chicken thigh, cubed.
– 1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes.
– 2 large potatoes, cubed.
– 2 limes, juiced.
– 1 bunch of coriander.
– 2 loaves of crusty white bread, cut in half with the insides scooped out.
- Heat the oil in a large pan, add the spices and bay leaf and cook for one minute.
- Add the onion and cook until almost softened, then add the garlic and ginger and cook for a further five minutes.
- Add the chicken and fry until sealed then add the chopped tomatoes and 400ml of water. Bring to the boil then simmer for 30 minutes before adding the potatoes and cooking for a further 30 minutes and seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Stir in the lime juice and some chopped coriander and serve in the hollowed-out bread loaf with additional chopped coriander to garnish.