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Greenly: Fiesta Time

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When life (AKA your CSA) gives you dried chilies, make enchiladas!

A few weeks back, my CSA share included six unnamed dried chilies. The next week, I scored two bunches of “Latin” herbs. Receiving unknown ingredients may seem like a bit of a nightmare to some, but it was reason enough for me to host a fiesta-themed dinner party!

While I love a good recipe, when it comes to preparing market-driven ingredients, a by-the-books recipe doesn’t always offer what you’re looking for. Instead, I rely on a lot of recipe-riffing, or gathering inspiration from cookbooks, techniques, and ingredients I’ve tasted, or at least heard about already. In this case, one of my dearest friends happens to know her Mexican food. So, I put in a call, we arranged a date, dreamed up a menu, and began chopping away.

We started by toasting the mystery chilies and reconstituting them to make a rich, delicious enchilada sauce. Then, we laced the cilantro-like herbs throughout a crunchy slaw of shredded cabbage (also from the CSA), topped with thinly sliced jalapeno for heat and scallion for color. To round the meal out, we grilled sweet summer corn, finished with plenty of lime and flake salt.

Since we didn’t have a single recipe we were working with, we allowed the simple ingredients to inspire us. While there were a few moments of doubt and wafts of burning chilies in the kitchen, all in all, the night was a success. Great friends, a bit of fun in the kitchen with fresh, local ingredients, a beautiful evening together al fresco – now that’s what cooking’s all about!

Where do you find your culinary inspiration?

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About the Author
Natalie Ghio
Natalie Ghio
Besides composting, I love traveling, yoga, exploring new flavors, supporting local farms, and cooking for friends at my home in Brooklyn. more