Happy Cinco de Mayo, everyone! Now, I personally do not need an excuse to eat Mexican food, but I’ll take one without complaint. And a Corona Light with a squeeze of lime for that matter. Yes, that sounds muy delicioso.
In honor of Cinco de Mayo this year, I decided to not only share a healthy and yummy Mexican recipe, but I also decided to learn exactly what this popular holiday is all about (embarrassingly enough, I’ve never bothered to look it up). I’m going to focus on the recipe, but if you’re interested, scroll to the bottom of this post for a recap of what I learned. It’s an interesting history lesson in my opinion.
Ok, back to the food. Today’s Mexican dish is an all-around winner for a few reasons. First of all, it’s ready in about 20 minutes. Secondly, it’s light and healthy. Lastly, and in my opinion most importantly, it’s what I call “vegan optional”. What does this mean? Well, my Fajita Lettuce Wrap filling is a simple combination of red onion, poblano peppers, garlic, and spicy Mexican sausage. Here’s where the “optional” comes in. If you eat meat, go ahead and use traditional chorizo pork sausage. But if you don’t, like me, you can use a vegan sausage like the Vegan Mexican Chipotle Sausage from Field Roast. It’s an easy substitute that gives you the same spice and hearty texture as sausage, just without the meat.
Field Roast brand vegan sausages can be found at many grocery stores including Whole Foods. The chipotle variety that I used in my fajitas is spicy, flavorful and absolutely delicious, making it perfect for dicing up and throwing into fillings for tacos, taco salads, enchiladas, Queso dip, and of course, fajitas. I’ve used other varieties of Field Roast as well, like for my Everything Bagel Pigs in a Blanket recipe. So yum.
Anyway, the recipe is really about the method and the concept, so you can use whatever sausage works for you. You could also you bell peppers instead of poblanos, but I really love poblanos for Mexican dishes. They are slightly spicy and a little bit bitter, which pairs perfectly with sweet onions. I recommend filling the lettuce cups while the filling is still hot so that the lettuce wilts and softens a bit. The filling makes either 8 super stuffed wraps or 12 moderately filled wraps. I think I recommend using 12, because it makes the lettuce wraps easier to eat. But do as you please.
Then comes the toppings. To balance the hot and spicy of the filling, my quick marinated tomatoes are a refreshing contrast. I then sprinkled on some diced avocado to add richness, but of course, add whatever your favorite fajita toppings are (cheese, sour cream, Greek yogurt, radishes, olives, etc.). And that’s it. You see? Super simple, crowd-pleasing, and fun!
I hope everyone has a festive Cinco de Mayo and takes this opportunity to enjoy some yummy spicy food and some fun drinks. Ole!
Speedy Fajita Lettuce Wraps with Marinated Tomatoes (Vegan Optional)
Serves: 4 Start to Finish: 20 minutes
For Fajita Mixture:
1 tablespoon Oil
1 large Red Onion
2 large Poblano Peppers
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
2 cloves Garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
4 Mexican-Style Sausages, about 12 oz total (I used Field Roast brand Vegan Mexican Chipotle Sausages)
1 pint Cherry Tomatoes, halved or quartered
1/4 cup chopped Scallion (about 2 large scallions, trimmed)
1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
1 tablespoon fresh Lime Juice (about 1/2 of one juicy lime)
8-12 whole Romaine Lettuce Leaves (I use the ones closer to the heart)
Fajita toppings of your choice (avocado, olives, sour cream, cheese), optional
Prep all veggies and vegan sausage. Slice onion into thin half moons, remove seeds of poblano and slice into thin strips, slice garlic, chop scallions and tomatoes. Cut each sausage down the middle length-wise then cut into bit size pieces.
Combine Marinated Tomatoes ingredients in a bowl. Set aside.
Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add onions, peppers and salt. Cook for about 4 minutes, tossing occasionally. Add sliced garlic and sausage. Cook for about 3 minutes, tossing occasionally.
To assemble, fill each lettuce cup with a large heaping spoonful of fajita mixture. Then top each with a small spoonful of tomatoes and any other toppings (I used diced avocado).
Cinco de Mayo: very brief history
The mid-1800’s in Mexico is marked by La Reforma, a movement led by liberal Mexican politicians meant to save Mexico from financial and political ruin. During this time, liberal president, Juarez, was forced to default on Mexico’s debt owed to European governments. One of these governments, France, decided to take this opportunity to invade Mexico and claim the territory as their own. This war over Mexican territory is known as the Franco-Mexican War. On May 5, 1862, a heavily armed band of French troops attacked the poorly defended city of Puebla. Surprisingly, the French ended up retreating after losing 500 troops to Mexico’s 100. Although this was a small battle in a large war, it was a symbolic victory which helped to fuel the Mexican resistance.
Today, Cinco de Mayo is a relatively insignificant holiday in most of Mexico, except for in the city of Puebla understandably. However, Mexicans and Americans in the states use the 5th of May as a celebration of Mexican culture and just about everyone likes to take part in celebrating.