Galley Wench Tales

Exploring the world through the people we meet
and the food they eat.

Lean Mexicali Casserole – tastes like home.
This 11″ x 17″ pyrex baking dish barely fits into my tiny galley oven.
No sweat in the oven in our temporary apartment!
New Zealand is not a place you’ll find what for me is California soul food – Mexican cuisine, where the divine chili does the cucaracha with garlic and onions upon my tongue. Fabulous fresh seafood, especially green-lipped mussels, and outstanding Indian food abounds.  Yes for me, when I get a hankering for Mexican Food, there’s not place like home.

But what if the base ingredients are here in New Zealand?  Thanks to a little luck and good timing, they are!

At Whangarei’s [wonderful] Grower’s Market, held every Saturday morning from 6:30 am – 10 am, several items inspired me to make my own “Mexican” soul food.  Its roots are dish I first tried near Santa Fe, New Mexico, calabacitas, though this recipe is neither truly traditional Mexican or nor even Tex-Mex, but a leaner contemporary fusion made with mostly available ingredients.  

This original concoction satisfied my salivary gland’s homesick blues.  It takes a bit of effort, but makes makes enough for several servings, even for the ravenous, homesick for good Mexican-style food.  

The recipe:

Lean Mexicali Casserole
(created by Dana Greyson,
aka “The Galley Wench” @
No reflection on my cooking or this recipe.  Just a friendly safety demo
at today’s Pasifika Fusion  
estival in Whangarei, New Zealand.
Don’t try this at home!

  • 4-6 cups couragettes (zucchini) and/or their yellow (summer squash) equivalent, diced
  • 2 cups corn kernels, cooked (fresh or frozen
  • 1 large red onion (or 1 ½ medium or two small onions), diced
  • 1 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
  • 2 green capsicums (bell peppers), diced
  • 1-2 jalapenos, finely diced
  • 250 g chorizo (I used Long Flat Bacon’s chorizo), minced, fine
  • 1/3 c mild green taco sauce (I used Victoria)
  • 2/3 c spicy green salsa verde (tomatillo) sauce (I used La Costena)
  • 1 T fresh or 1 t dry oregano or 1 ½ t dry oregano leaves, (optional)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 250 g corn tortillas (about 10 small tortillas), cut into strips a finger-width wide
  • 1 1/2 c. cheese (I used a mix of 2/3 gated pizza cheese and 1/3 reduced fat feta, crumbled
  • ¼ cup sliced olives (I used a sliced kalamata pizza mix)
  • 2 scallions, sliced

  1. Cook corn, squash in minimal water, until tender.  Drain.  Set aside.
  2. In a large skillet over the stove, over medium heat cook the onion in olive oil until transparent. 
  3. Add the garlic.  Cook until the garlic fragrance rises, about 1 minute. 
  4. Add the capsicums, jalapenos and chorizo.  Cook until the peppers are tender, about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat.
  5. To the skillet, add and gently mix the cooked corn and squash to the onion, chorizo, garlic and pepper mixture.  Sprinkle the salt, pepper, oregano powder over the top (or if using dried leaves, rub them between your palms over the mixture) then gently mix.
  6. In something easy to pour from (like a pyrex measuring cup) mix the taco sauce and salsa verde together.
  7. In a rectangular 9 x 17 baking pan (I use pyrex), pour about ½ the green sauce mix coating the pan’s bottom with a rubbery spatula.
  8. Evenly scatter ½ the corn tortilla strips across the bottom of the baking pan over the sauce.
  9. Spread half of the veggie-onion mix across the pan.
  10. Scatter the remaining tortilla strips on top of the veggie mix.
  11. Sprinkle roughly half the cheese across the veggie mix.
  12. Spread the remaining veggie mix across the pan.
  13. Pour the remaining green sauce over the veggie mix.
  14. Top with remaining cheese, olives and sliced scallions.
  15. Bake until cheese is melted at 200 C (or 350 F) degrees, about 15 minutes. 

Engine out; boat goes on the hard tomorrow.
Pearson 365’s Westerbek 40.  TLC coming.
Location Location
After our near month long road trip blitzing New Zealand from Northlands to its Southernmost mainland tip, at Bluff, South Island, we’re back.  Currently we’re in Whangarei’s Riverside Marina (S35.43.674 E174.20.17), doing some much needed boat work before we resume cruising.

Sailing by the Numbers
Last year, between December 2014 and November 2015 we sailed from Florida USA to New Zealand, over 10,000 miles (visiting USA, Cuba, Colombia, Panama, Galapagos [Ecuador], French Polynesia, Cook Islands, American Samoa, Tonga, New Zealand).  We will resume serious cruising when cyclone season ends in ~April 2016.  We have not yet decided whether to sail to Fiji, New Caledonia, Vanuatu then Australia (~4,000 miles), or just to Australia (~1,500 miles).  We’re leaning toward the former, then selling our boat and going back to work.