On Your Table: Celebrate Cinco De Mayo with Mexican and Italian flare

By Cathy Branciaroli, Food Correspondent, The Times

Mushrooms are the star in these Italian style enchiladas.

Cinco de Mayo is a significant Mexican celebration, originating as a commemoration of the defeat of Napoleon III in 1862 when Mexican soldiers, greatly outnumbered and poorly armed, prevailed versus the forces of France.  In honor of that holiday, many folks plan a Cinco de Mayo fiesta with recipes for favorite Mexican foods like tacos, guacamole, enchiladas and nachos.

This also is a day for celebration by Americans and other nationalities.   For instance, some parts of Chester County are strongly populated with Italian families and many Italian traditions hold a great deal in common with those of Mexican families. So for Cinco de Mayo this year I decided to combine the two. While there are lots of places in this area to enjoy foods like traditional enchiladas, those dishes tend to be meat laden and heavy and I was aiming for a lighter result.

This approach to enchiladas takes advantage of Chester County’s bounty of mushrooms, considering that we are the mushroom capital of the world. Paired with cheese and other vegetables, it offers a lighter option while honoring many of the traditional enchilada components. The Italian aspect is the addition of zucchini and fresh tomatoes. Mushrooms, zucchini and fresh tomatoes are probably not the first enchilada ingredients that come to mind, but the end result in my family’s taste test was voted “delicious.” Plus if your family really must have meat in the dish, shredded chicken or beef can be added as an additional ingredient.

So since the Cinco de Mayo holiday is upon us, grab your mushrooms and tortillas and get cooking.

Enchiladas with Mushrooms, Cheese and Vegetables

These proportions can be varied depending on the quantity to be served


1 pound sliced mushrooms of your choice, button, crimini, shitake all work well

2 medium zucchini, ½ inch dice

1 container of cherry tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise

1 medium onion, roughly chopped

6-8 8 inch flour tortillas

2-3 garlic cloves, minced

2 tsp cumin, 1 tsp Mexican oregano, salt & pepper, hot pepper flakes

1 4-oz can green chiles

¼ cup neutral oil

1 bag (8 oz) shredded cheddar or mixed cheese

1 Jar or can enchilada sauce

Condiments: cilantro, sour cream, hot sauce, lime juice


Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and spray baking dish with cooking spray. Heat a swirl of oil in a pan. Sauté onions in that oil, seasoning with ¼ tsp cumin, oregano, salt & pepper. When softened, remove from pan and set aside. Sauté zucchini with the same seasonings till softened, adding tomatoes part way through. Also remove and set aside. Pour a little more oil to the pan and add mushrooms. Sauté until liquid is absorbed. When nearly done, add the chiles. Combine all ingredients in the saucepan.

Separately, bath each tortilla on both sides in a little of the enchilada sauce. Sprinkle one good handful of cheese down the middle of each tortilla.   Scoop out a hearty portion of the vegetables from the pan and similarly line them up down the middle of the tortilla. Roll up and place seam side down in the baking dish. Top with a small amount of additional enchilada sauce and lots of cheese. Bake 10 minutes covered and an additional 3-5 minutes uncovered. Broiling at the end for 1 minute makes for a nice finish.


Cathy Branciaroli also writes about her adventures in the kitchen on her award-winning blog Delaware Girl Eats


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