Tag Archives: Nopales

Ensalada de Nopales

20 Jun

Watch my video debut with the Taste of The Times where I make Ensalada de Nopales,  MexItaliano style!

Look for another great video for Risotto Milanese Mexicana,  next Wednesday at Taste of The Times!

Ensalada de Nopales

  • 6-8 Cactus Paddles (Nopal)
  • 1/2 Red Onion
  • 6-7 Cherry Tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, packed
  • 1-2 Chile Jalapeño or Fresno chiles
  • 1/4 cup Queso cotija or Queso Fresco
  • 2 cups fresh baby arugula
  • 1/2 ripe avocado sliced.
  • 1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 tablespoon White Basalmic Vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 

  1. Clean the nopal to remove all the needles and nubs on each paddle.
  2. Julienne each nopal into small strips about 2 inches long.
  3. Rinse and then blanch the nopales in boiling, lightly salted water for about 5 minutes.
  4. Rinse the nopal with cold water or shock on ice bath.
  5. Slice the onion, halve the cherry tomatoes, and chop the cilantro. Combine with the nopales in a mixing bowl.
  6. Stem, devein, and remove the seeds from the chiles and dice then add them to the bowl.
  7. Season with salt and pepper. Dress with the olive oil and vinegar and mix well.
  8. Wash and spin the arugula, then place on serving dish or bowl as a bed for the salad.
  9. Empty contents of mixing bowl on top of the arugula. Sprinkle with the crumbled cotija, top with the avocado slices and serve!

Mixotes de Pollo

5 Apr Mixotes de Pollo

I love waking up in Mexico City… Each morning in my suegra’s house is to awaken every sense in one’s body. The first to awake is sound; you can hear the commotion of the city, car horns going off, the sounds of the street workers yelling “Glooooobos” or the occasional “Tamales Oaxacaños” recording. The next is sight; the bright sun of the Valle de México shining through your eyelids, kick starting your brain. Then comes smell; there is nothing quite like the aroma of my suegra‘s kitchen wafting up the stairs and into the bedroom. It often brings me back to the old cartoons, where the aromas were like hands, grabbing the antagonist and leading them to their savory desires.  Finally, there is touch; to walk downstairs, sit down and take a fresh corn tortilla, a cup of café de olla, and a plate of  freshly prepared mixotes is the final step to waking up in Mexico City!

Mixotes de Pollo

Mixotes de Pollo

Among all the delicious dishes my suegra makes, one of my Top 5 favorites is Mixotes.  Mixotes is a dish typical of central Mexico and the name derives from what I believe to be the method (traditionally the meat is wrapped in the leaves of the Maguey cactus the ‘Mix’ ) and the cooking technique ( the ‘otl’ part or the ‘otes’ plural) , but I am not a Nahuatl expert so don’t quote me as the source of this linguistic synopsis. I digress, Mixotes can be made with almost any type of meat. I have had ram, lamb, and of course in the case of this recipe, chicken. The traditional way is to season the meat with a chile paste and wrap in the leaves of the Maguey, very similar to barbacoa, add a scoop of nopales, and to pit roast the packages for several hours. The modern preparation is to prepare En Papillote  and steam the packages. In this case, we use foil instead of parchment paper. The chipotles used in this dish smell particularly delicious because of the smoky, earthy flavor that dried chipotles bring to the party. Those smells are the little hands that bring me down those stairs in the morning!

The final result is a wonderful spicy dish in plenty of chipotle flavored broth, tender cactus, and succulent chicken. I open up that package, close my eyes, and I am transported back to my suegra’s kitchen! Enjoy!

 

 

Mixotes de Pollo

  • 6-7 Chicken Quarters (Legs & Thighs)
  • 12-13 Dried Chipotles Moras
  • 1 cup cilantro leafs, loosely packed
  • 6-7 Nopales (cactus paddles)
  • 1 Large Onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  1. Put the chipotles in a saucepan with water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  2. While the chipotles are boiling, clean the nopales and cut into thin 1 inch or less strips.
  3. Place the nopales in a medium saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Boil for about 3-5 minutes. Then drain and rinse with cold water, and let drain.
  4. Take the chicken and remove the skin, rinse well and pat dry. Place in a large mixing bowl.
  5. Slice the onion thin using a mandolin and combine with the chicken in the mixing bowl.
  6. Add the nopales to the mixing bowl.
  7. Wash the cilantro and remove the stems, add to the mixing bowl.
  8. Once the chipotles are tender, put on some food service gloves and remove the stems and seeds, place in a blender with the clove of garlic and about 1/4 cup of the liquid you boiled the chipoltes in. Puree the mixture well and add to the mixing bowl.
  9. Cover and place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to allow the chicken time to marinate in the chile mixture.
  10. Grab some aluminum foil and make 6 sheets, make them large enough to wrap two pieces of chicken and some of the chile & vegetable mixture.
  11. With a large spoon, scoop out two pieces of chicken and some of the vegetables, place in the center of the foil and fold up the package, do this until all the chicken is wrapped into individual foil pouches.
  12. Place the pouches in a large pot with about 1.5 inches of water, you can place a bowl inverted in the bottom and then place the packages on top of and around the bowl, this will allow the packages to steam. OR you can use a spaghetti cooker (the one with the strainer insert).
  13. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and steam the packages for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, take out a package and check the chicken to ensure it is fully cooked.
  14. Serve with Saffron Rice or Frijoles de Olla.
Mixotes de Pollo

Mixotes de Pollo

Tlacoyos de Frijol

20 Feb Blue Corn Tlacoyos
Blue Corn Tlacoyo

Blue Corn Tlacoyo with nopales, salsa roja, and queso fresco

One of the things that I love about Mexico is the open air markets that pop up across neighborhoods throughout the city each day. These bazaars are called Tianguis. In my suegras (mother-in-law)neighborhood, Tianguis is usually on Sundays and Wednesdays, but you do not have to travel very far to find another local Tianguis on any given day. For me, I just love wandering through these markets, especially once I get to the section that is selling food. One memory that I have is going to a Tianguis with my suegra and I stopping by this stall with a little old lady and her large comal, a pot of refried beans, and a large bowl of fresh corn masa. My suegra put up three fingers and the little old lady took a ball of masa, formed a thick tortilla in her hands, stuffed it with beans, and flipped it back and forth between her two hands. Once she has formed a large, mostly flat, football shaped cake, she slapped it on the hot comal. A few minutes later, I had this delicious toasted treat called a Tlacoyo.

Yellow corn Tlacoyo

Yellow corn Tlacoyo topped with sour cream, nopales, salsa verde, and queso fresco

Tlacoyos are a simple, but delicious antojito that are oval shaped fried or toasted cakes made of masa. They are similar to fresh corn tortillas, but are somewhat torpedo or football shaped and fatter. They are usually stuffed with refried beans, requeson, fava beans, or chicharon (pork rinds) or other ingredients. The toasted or fried Tlacoyo is traditionally consumed with only salsa and cheese. We usually just pile on some fresh sautéed nopales, salsa, and cheese, but you can experiment with all sorts of toppings here. Start with some shredded chicken or chorizo and don’t stop until you have topped it with some fresh queso canasta or queso cotija!

Forming your Tlacoyo takes a bit of skill and a LOT of practice. As I made them, I had a few failures, but by the end, we had made a few perfect Tlacoyos to shoot and eat! Maybe someday in the future I will shoot my own videos, but until then, you can view a YouTube video on how to make Tlacoyos here : How to make Tlacoyos.

Duo de Tlacoyo

Duo de Tlacoyo

Tlacoyos de Frijol

  • Frijoles de Olla
  • Salsa Roja or Salsa Verde (see below)
  • Sauteed Nopales (see below)
  • Queso Fresco or Queso Cotija
  • 2 cups Blue Corn Masa Harina or Maseca Masa Harina
  • Water

1. In a large mixing bowl dump in the masa harina and make a well in the center.

2. Start adding water with about 1/2 cup at first then mix in the masa just as you would to make fresh pasta dough.

3. Continue to add water at little bit at a time until you form one cohesive mass of dough, it should be a little bit on the wet, tacky side.

4. At this point you can follow the YouTube video or you can follow my method (warning: this takes a bit of practice to perfect and it is difficult to write a procedure!) Take a little larger than a golf ball size bit of masa and form an oblong mass, take it to a tortilla press and LIGHTLY press out a rather thick tortilla.

5. Take the thick tortilla and spread some beans down just the center of the tortilla. Then fold one side halfway in and then the other side halfway in, then fold down the top and bottom to cover the beans completely.

6. Take it back to the tortilla press and press it out lightly to form a long torpedo shaped, or football shaped thick tlacoyo.

7. Place it gently on your heated comal and toast well on both sides.

9. Once you have all your tlacoyos toasted, spead a bit of corn oil on both sides of the tlacoyo with your finger or a brush, then fry until crisp and golden.

10. Take your tlacoyo, spread some fresh sautéed nopales, put a liberal spoonful of salsa on top of the nopales, then add some crumbled cheese and serve!

Fresh Sauteed Nopales

 

  • 6-8 Nopales (Cactus Paddles)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon corn oil
  • Pinch of Salt  

1. Clean the nopales by cutting off the needles and the nodes, and then cut the stem and the edges off the paddles.

2.  Cut each nopal into thin strips about 1 inch long in length.

3. Once they are all cleaned and cut, place in a pot of boiling water and boil for about 5 minutes or until tender.

4. Rinse under cold water.

5. Take a medium sautee pan and about a tablespoon of corn oil and heat until shimmering.

6. Add the nopales and sautee for about 2 minutes.

7. Add the oregano and salt and toss well. Continue to cook for about 1 or 2 more minutes.

8. Serve!

 

Salsa Verde 

  • 3 Tomatillos
  • 6 chile jalepeño
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 peel of onion
  • 1/4 cup cilantro loosely packed
  • Salt to taste

1. Toast the tomatillos, jalepeño, and garlic on a comal.

2. Once they are all nice a toasted (but not burnt!), halve the tomatillos, peel the garlic, and remove the stems from the jalepeño. You can also remove the seeds and veins from the jalepeño for a slightly milder salsa.

3. Place in a food processor with the onion and the cilantro.

4. Pulse until you get the consistency you desire, less for a chunky salsa, more for a smoother salsa.

5. Spoon into a serving bowl, add the salt, and mix well.

Blue Corn Tlacoyos

Blue Corn Tlacoyos with beans, nopales, salsa roja, and cheese

 

Cilantro Pesto Crusted Turkey Tenderloins

8 Feb
Turkey Tenderloins

Cilantro Pesto Cruster Turkey Tenderloins

This recipe evolved from the simple boredom of having the same meal once a week. Normally, with turkey tenderloins, I simply pound them flat, give them a quick soak in some sort of marinade, and throw them on the grill.  This go around, I wanted to do something different and a bit more flavorful. Looking through a list of recipes, I was intrigued by one recipe that I found that encrusted the tenderloins in a sage pesto using walnuts. Inspired  by this recipe I decided to put my own MexItalian spin on it!

I have taken turkey tenderloins and baked them with a coating of cilantro pesto. I just love how the fresh, almost floral flavors of the cilantro combine with the garlic and citrus to add complexity to the turkey. The pesto also gives the added benefit of keeping the turkey moist during the roasting process. This recipe is kid tested and approved! My daughter, on first sight, did not want anything to do with green colored turkey. Upon tasting it, she proudly exclaimed “Whoa!”… That sure sounded like a seal of approval!

Cilantro Pesto Crusted Turkey Tenderloins

  • 2 turkey tenderloins, about 1 pound each
  • 8 medium red potatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 of a white onion, sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 8-10 nopales paddles, cleaned and diced (optional but recommended!)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. In a mixing bowl combine the potatoes, onion, garlic, nopales, and olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste and mix well.
  3. Prepare the cilantro pesto (Follow the recipe for the cilantro pesto below!).
  4. Spread the pesto all over the tenderloins and place in a roasting pan.
  5. Spread the potatoes, nopales, and onions in the same pan around the turkey.
  6. Roast for 40 minutes, or until the tenderloins reach a internal temperature of 165F. Let the tenderloins rest for 5-10 minutes prior to serving. Serve with the potatoes and nopales and a glass of Pinot Noir!

Cilantro Pesto

  • 1 bunch or 2 cups of fresh cilantro (washed well and dried well!)
  • 1/3  cup pine nuts
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup crumbled cotija cheese
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  1. Put the pine nuts and the garlic in a food processor and pulse a few times.
  2. Add the cilantro, lime juice and slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the cotija cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.