Viva La Vida! Have A Fiesta Friday For Cinco De Mayo

IN THE KITCHEN

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When you say, "Viva la vida!" you're saying "Long live life!"

That's the feeling of fiesta -- seize the day, be in the moment, enjoy yourself!

Cinco de Mayo, the fifth of May, celebrates the Battle of Puebla's historic victory over the French on May 5, 1862. While Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico's traditional Independence Day, it remains a festive holiday steeped in pride and tradition.

This fifth of May, what better way to embrace the mouthwatering, tempting tastes and textures of authentic Mexican meals or make a fiesta of any occasion when you serve drinks and dishes with bold Latin flavors.

Invite familia and amigos together to share in the fun and festivities.

Set the scene for the celebration.

Shop around for inexpensive piñatas, strings of cactus or chile pepper lights, maracas, serapes and sombreros to give any room or patio a fiesta flair.

For more than 150 years, Ortega has offered a full line of authentic, great tasting Mexican food products. Use these to create memorable recipes with their warm, melted salsa and cheese, crunchy corn tacos, soft tortillas, aromatic seasonings, zesty salsas and diced green chiles.

Bring these "las favoritas" recipes to life -- and to your dinner table -- to celebrate the country's authentic flavors. Ortega helps make your meals distinct and delicious, easy and irresistible.

Shake things up with a Cinco de Mayo Margarita, in a glass authentically rimmed with delicately flaked kosher salt. In fact, you can make your taste buds salsa-dance every time you use this unique salt, a favorite of both restaurant and home chefs. Unlike regular table salt or other kinds of kosher salt, Diamond Crystal kosher salt crystals are hollowed out and pyramid-shaped, creating an undeniably unique texture that dissolves in a burst of smooth salt flavor.

Get your mojo goin' with a luscious Latin sauce that's also a marinade for a classic fiesta dish, carne asada or grilled steak. Say "ole" to olives in Latin Lover's Carne Asada With Orange, Olive and Red Onion Mojo and to any dish that needs bold color and tantalizing taste, from sauces and salsas to salads and savories. Olives -- black or green, in cans or jars, pitted or not, from small to large, stuffed or sliced or whole -- offer a fiesta of flavors in one bite.

For more information, visit www.diamondcrystalsalt.com and www.lindsayolives.com.

Latin Lover's Carne Asada with Orange, Olive and Red Onion Mojo

Serves 4 to 6

2 pounds beef skirt or flank steak

4 oranges, cut into 1/2-inch slices

4 cylindrical heads of romaine lettuce

1, 15-ounce can hearts of palm, drained and chopped

Orange, Olive and Red Onion Mojo

1/2 cup chopped Lindsay Large Black Ripe Pitted Olives

1/2 cup chopped Lindsay Spanish Stuffed Olives

1 cup orange juice

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1/2 cup finely chopped red onion

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Diamond Crystal kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

To make mojo, whisk together olives, orange and lime juices, onion, garlic, olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper. Transfer half (about 1 3/4 cups) to resealable plastic bag. Add steak, seal and let marinate at room temperature 30 minutes. Reserve remaining mojo.

Prepare hot fire in grill.

Brush orange slices and romaine with some reserved mojo and grill, turning once, until slightly charred on all sides. Remove from grill.

Place steak on grill and grill 2 to 3 minutes per side, turning once, for medium-rare. (Discard marinade.)

To serve, cut each head of romaine into pieces and arrange with hearts of palm on each plate. Serve steak and orange slices on the side and drizzle all with remaining mojo.

Adapted from Weeknight Grilling with the BBQ Queens by Karen Adler and Judith Fertig (Harvard Common Press, 2006).

Green Olive Salsa

Makes 4 servings

1/2 cup chopped Lindsay Spanish Stuffed Olives

2/3 cup chopped apples, such as Gala, McIntosh or Granny Smith

2 teaspoons lemon zest

3 teaspoons minced shallot

2 tablespoons chopped roasted red peppers

2 tablespoons chopped yellow peppers

1/4 cup olive oil

Diamond Crystal kosher salt and pepper to taste

In large bowl, mix ingredients together. Can be served with chips.

Mexican Steak Tacos

Makes 2 servings

1, 3-1/2-ounce bag boil-in-bag long grain rice

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon Ortega Taco Sauce

1 tablespoon Ortega Salsa, any variety

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 pound sirloin steak

1, 15-ounce can diced tomatoes

1, 4-ounce can Ortega Diced Green Chiles

4 Ortega Taco Shells

4 lime wedges

Sour cream (optional)

Cook rice. Meanwhile, combine cumin, garlic powder, taco sauce, salsa and salt, and rub over both sides of steak.

Spray broiler pan with cooking spray. Place steak on pan. Broil 4 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Cut steak into thin slices.

Combine rice, tomatoes and chiles. Place mixture in shells.

Top rice mixture with beef slices. Squeeze juice from limes over beef. Top with sour cream, if desired.

Mexican Hash Brown Bake

Makes 12 servings (1 cup each)

1, 13-ounce container Ortega Salsa & Cheese

1-1/2 cups sour cream

1, 4-ounce can Ortega Diced Green Chiles or Diced Jalapeños

1, 30-ounce package frozen shredded hash brown potatoes

2 Ortega taco shells, coarsely crushed

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 13-inch-by-9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Combine salsa and cheese, sour cream and chiles or peppers in large bowl; stir until blended. Gently stir in hash browns. Spoon mixture into baking dish.

Sprinkle with crushed taco shells.

Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until bubbly around edges. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Tip: Make extra special by adding 2 sliced green onions or 2 slices crisp, crumbled bacon. Use light or reduced-fat sour cream if preferred.

Mexican Pasta Salad

Makes 8 servings (3/4 cup each)

3 cups (8 ounces) rotini pasta

1, 1.25-ounce package Ortega Taco Seasoning Mix

1/2 cup sour cream

1/4 cup water

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1 cup cherry tomato halves

1, 4-ounce can Ortega Diced Green Chiles

1/2 cup diced green bell pepper

1, 2.25-ounce can sliced ripe olives, drained

2 green onions, sliced

2 Ortega Taco Shells, coarsely crushed

1/2 cup Ortega Thick & Chunky Salsa

1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Cheddar cheese

Cook rotini according to package directions (do not overcook); drain. Rinse with cold water until cooled; drain.

Stir together taco seasoning mix, sour cream, water and vinegar in large bowl until blended. Stir in rotini, cherry tomatoes, green chiles, bell pepper, olives and green onions.

Microwave crushed taco shells on HIGH, 30 to 45 seconds.

Place pasta in serving bowl. Top with salsa, crushed taco shells and cheese just before serving.

Tip: Taste salad before adding toppings. Stir in a little water for creamier texture. Use light or reduced-fat sour cream if preferred.

For more recipe ideas, visit www.ortega.com.

Recipes and art from Family Features

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