Recipes: Arrrrrriba! A Veggie Mexican Buffet

If you’ve never eaten at Wahaca, you should… in fact you must.  They serve up some amazing Mexican-inspired street food, specialising in small dishes of which they suggest 2-3 per person, usually finger food.

On Saturday night I tried re-creating some of my favourite Wahaca dishes at home, with a ‘picking dinner’ – no cutlery required, just get stuck in.

It is all very simple to put together, (with a few supermarket shortcuts along the way), and I’ve included below instructions for making the whole jolly lot – which would serve 4 hungry people for a full  meal, or probably 6-8 as just stand-up party nibbles. 

As I said – these were originally inspired by Wahaca’s menu, alongside Thomasina Miers’ excellent book Mexican Food Made Simple, but simplified with my shortcuts, cheats and amendments according to what I had in the fridge.

Shopping List

(for the entire buffet)
  • 1 packet of 8 tortilla wraps
  • 3 red onions
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 fresh red chillis
  • 1 lime
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 avocados
  • Large  bunch fresh coriander
  • 1 packet tortilla chips
  • ½ small jar chipotle paste
  • ½ jar passata
  • ½ tub ricotta cheese
  • ½ tub crème fraiche
  • 1 carton mushrooms
  • ½ bag grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 small tin sweetcorn
  • 1 courgette
  • ½ packet feta cheese
  • 1 sweet potato (or ½ a butternut squash would work equally well)
  • 2 tbsp white wine
  • Handful greens (spinach, chard, cavolo nero or similar)

Preparation

It is really useful if you do these jobs first – you can do them up to a day in advance.

– Chop all the red onions very finely and place in a bowl.

– Crush the garlic cloves and place in a bowl (or egg cup!)

– De-seed and finely chop the red chilli  and place in a bowl (or egg cup!)

– Prepare the tacos – take 6 of your 8 tortilla wraps, and cut out 4-5 smaller circles from each with a pastry cutter (or around a glass) – mine were 9cm across.  (NB don’t throw away your offcuts – see the bottom of the post). Just before serving, heat your tacos – if you have a griddle pan, heat them for 1 minute on each side until just beginning to show stripes.  Otherwise you can heat the whole stack in a microwave or wrapped in foil in the oven for 5 minutes.

– Remove the stalks from the coriander, and chop the leaves.  Place in a bowl. (Do this just before you start to prepare the dishes below – this is one not to do a day in advance).

The Dishes

(I would suggest making them in this order – you can wash up as you go to avoid using every pan in the kitchen!)

Quick Chipotle Sauce

In a small saucepan, heat a tbsp of olive oil.  Add 2 tbsp of chopped red onion, followed by 1 tsp of chopped garlic, and fry for 2-3 minutes.  Add ½ a jar of passata and 2 tsp of chipotle paste (this gives a medium heat – adjust to your own taste!) and leave simmering on a very low heat for 20 minutes or so until slightly reduced.

Serve warm – I served it in a ramekin with a teaspoon, for adding a dollop to the tacos below.

(NB Quick Chipotle Sauce is vegan)

Cheese & Mushroom Quesadilla

Thickly slice the mushrooms, and fry gently in olive for 8-10 minutes until they begin to give up their juices.  Add a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper, 1 tsp garlic and the juice of ½ a lemon.

On a baking tray, lay one of your two remaining whole tortilla wraps.  Spoon the mushrooms over it, then sprinkle with half a packet of grated cheese, and 1 tbsp coriander.  Top with the other wrap.

When you are about to serve the buffet, preheat the grill and place the quasadilla under it for 2-3 minutes until golden brown.  Turn it out onto a chopping board, then ease back onto the baking tray and grill the other side until golden.  Slice and serve immediately.

Make it vegan: replace the grated cheese with a tin of refried beans from the supermarket (most are vegan but check the tin).

Sweet Potato & Cavolo Nero Tacos

Finely chop the sweet potato into ½cm cubes.  Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan and add the sweet potato, cooking on a medium heat for 3-4 minutes until almost tender.  Add 2 tbsp chopped red onion and 1 tsp garlic.

After 2 more minutes, add the cavolo nero (or other greens), then 2 tbsp white wine and 2 tbsp crème fraiche.

Reheat just before serving, then squeeze over the juice of ½ a lemon.  Spoon onto your prepared and heated tacos (this quantity will make 9), and sprinkle each with chopped coriander.

These are particularly good dolloped with coriander & ricotta dip (below)

Make it vegan: Just omit the créme fraiche

 Feta, Courgette & Sweetcorn Tacos

Finely chop your courgette and thoroughly drain your tin of sweetcorn.  Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan and add 2 tbsp chopped red onion and the chopped courgette.  Cook on a medium heat for 4-5 minutes until turning brown at the edges.  Add 1 tsp garlic, 1 tsp chilli, and the sweetcorn, and cook for a further 2 minutes.  Season generously with salt & pepper.

Just before serving, re-heat then squeeze over the juice of ½ a lime.  Cut ½ a packet of feta into small cubes and stir through the courgette & sweetcorn mixture with 2 tbsp coriander.

Spoon into your prepared and heated tacos and serve.  This will make 9-12.  These are particularly good with a dollop of quick chipotle sauce (above).

Make it vegan: Omit the feta – a dollop of soya or cashew cream stirred through the sweetcorn & courgette mixture will give a similar creaminess.

Tortilla Chips with Guacamole

For the guacamole, put 2 tbsp chopped red onion, 1 tsp garlic and 2 tsp chopped chilli in a large bowl.  Peel and chop 2 avocados, then mash them into the other ingredients with a fork.  Squeeze over the juice of ½ lime and sprinkle with 2 tbsp coriander, season generously with salt and pepper and stir well to incorporate.

Lay out your tortilla chips on a plate, then top each with 1 tbsp guacamole and 1 tsp crème fraiche.  I had some radishes in the fridge so also added this for some extra bite.

Make it vegan: Omit the créme fraiche – a small drizzle of soya or cashew cream would work, or they would still work well without!

Coriander & Ricotta Dip

In a bowl, simply mix together ½ tub ricotta with 2 tbsp crème fraiche and 2 tbsp chopped coriander.  Season well with salt & pepper and serve in a ramekin with a spoon.


That’s all folks – just serve up all the dishes with small plates and let everyone tuck in.  If you have any coriander left, sprinkle generously over everything to brighten up the plates.

With your tortilla trimmings and any leftover tortilla chips, simply whizz them up in a blender to create some delicious savoury breadcrumbs – keep them in the freezer and sprinkle a handful over pasta bakes, gratins or roasted vegetables for some extra crunch.


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