Traditional Foods and Flavors of the Southwest

The Southwest is a culture unique to about seven states in the south western portion of the United States. Those states include, Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas and Utah. The foods are influenced by the Native American cultures from both North America and Mexico, as well as the dry, arid weather conditions found in these regions. The dryness is only favorable to a few hearty crops, and those are the foods that are found in almost all Southwestern cuisines. These foods and crops have been around since as early as about 7000 B.C.E.

The basic ingredients you will find used all throughout Southwestern cuisines are any combination of corn, beans and squash or pumpkins. These are collectively known as “The Three Sisters”. There is also a fourth “sister” that is used just as frequently, and that would be chilies; chilies of all kinds. Southwestern cuisines are also almost always flavored with garlic, onions, cumin, oregano, paprika, coriander, black pepper and cayenne pepper too. These ingredients are the basic ingredients for all Southwestern recipes. Have these basic ingredients stocked in your panty, and you are all set. I know they are ALWAYS stocked in my pantry. Southwestern flavors are some of my absolute favorites. 🙂

I used almost every single one of these ingredients when I made my Southwestern beans to go with my chicken. Flavors of the Southwest Beans of all kinds are used in Southwestern cooking, but my favorites are black beans. I like the flavor better and, depending on how they are fixed, they tend to be a little lower in calories too. But I eat and love all kinds of beans though. Beans of all kinds are a great source of both protein and fiber.

Southwestern Black Beans

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 onion, diced fine

1/2 red pepper, diced fine

1-1 /2 cups corn

1 jalapeno, diced fine

1 TBSP garlic

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried thyme or about 4 sprigs of fresh thyme, chopped fine

1 tsp cumin

salt & pepper to taste

olive oil

Mix everything together except the beans and saute in hot olive oil for about 5-7 minutes, or until the onions are translucent and the vegetables start to soften. You want all your ingredients to be about the same size to help them cook more evenly.

Add the beans and cook just long enough for them to heat up.

When everything is thoroughly heated, serve the beans up alongside your favorite meats or mains and you are all set. I like to serve mine over rice as well. Top with either a little fresh cilantro or parsley y desfruitas!

Stay safe and stay well Everyone. ‘Til next time.

Author: ajeanneinthekitchen

I have worked in the restaurant and catering industry for 35 years. I attended 2 culinary schools in Southern California, and have a degree in culinary arts from the Southern California School of Culinary Arts, as well as a few other degrees in other areas. I love to cook and I love to feed people.

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