House, Environment & Food

Anatomy of an Enchilada

Posted by Donna Rouviere Anderson | April 17, 2018
Photos by Forrest Anderson

While working on a Mexican/Southwest chapter for a cookbook on tomatoless cooking that I’m writing for people with tomato allegies, I recently looked through a large stack of Mexican and Southwest cookbooks and wrote down the basic ingredients for most of the recipes in them. I discovered something that can vastly simplify Mexican and Southwest cooking. More than ninety percent of the recipes for a wide variety of dishes use some or all of the following spices:



Chili Powder






Spanish Paprika

I also discovered that most Mexican and Southwest dishes include the following basic categories – spices; sauces of various kinds (the most common have a tomato base, but other bases can be substituted); meat, poultry or fish; vegetables, whether salad greens, vegetables for sauces and salsas or dried beans;  grain, most commonly in the form of tortillas;  and cheese of various kinds.



These categories can be combined and cooked in a variety of ways – grilling, roasting, baking, frying, stewing in a crockpot. Once you understand how to combine these basics in various ways, you can quickly put together a delicious Mexican meal from ingredients you have on hand.

The following recipe can help make that process easier. It is a basic seasoning mix for just about any kind of Mexican or Southwest food. Just mix the ingredients in a jar and add the mixture to taste to meat or sauces  for use in enchiladas, tacos, fajitas, quesadillas, on nachos or in tortilla soup.

Mexican Seasoning Mix

2 tsp. chili powder

2 tsp. smoked paprika

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1 ½ tsp. dried onion flakes

1 tsp. sugar

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. garlic powder

½ tsp. oregano

½ tsp. ground coriander

¼ tsp. cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp. allspice (optional but good in fajitas)

Donna Rouviere Anderson is writing a cookbook called The No Tomato Cookbook, for people with tomato allergies and intolerance.