CACTUS PADDLE TOSTADAS
Tostadas de nopales
3 tablespoons safflower or corn oil
3 pounds fresh nopales, rinsed, cleaned and diced; or, if canned, rinsed thoroughly
1/2 pound ripe tomato, chopped
3 tablespoons white onion, chopped
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped, optional
1 jalapeño pepper, chopped, seeding optional
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lime juice
Salt to taste
For the tostadas:
8 corn tostadas
1 cup refried beans
Garnishes of your choice: queso fresco, Mexican crema, Mexican avocado, salsa…
To Clean Fresh Cactus Paddles:
Rinse fresh cactus paddles under cold water, being careful not to prick your fingers with the small thorns on its surface. Using a vegetable peeler or small sharp knife, peel away the darker bumps where thorns grow, as well as the thorns, trying not to peel off all the outer dark green skin. Lay the paddles flat on a chopping board, then trim around approximately 1/4 inch of the edges and 1/2 inch of the thick base. Once cleaned, rinse and dice into 1/2-to-1-inch squares, to your liking.
To Use Cactus From A Can, Bag or Jar:
After you have removed the diced cactus from the jar or can, rinse it under water and drain well.
To Cook the Cactus:
Heat two tablespoons of the oil in a thick, large-sized skillet (one that has a lid) over medium-high heat. Add the diced cactus, stir in the salt and stir for a minute or two. Place the lid on the skillet.
Reduce the heat to medium and let the cactus cook and sweat for about 20 minutes, until it has exuded a gelatinous liquid that will begin to dry out (NOTE: If using cactus from a can or jar, already cleaned and cooked, just cook for an additional five minutes).
Take the lid off the skillet, stir and make sure most of that gelatinous substance has dried up. If it hasn’t, let the cactus cook for a few more minutes until it does. Let the cactus cool slightly. In a mixing bowl, toss the cactus with the tomato, onion, jalapeño, cilantro, lime juice and salt. Like this, it can be eaten as a cactus paddle, nopal salad!
To Assemble the Tostadas:
Spread a layer of refried beans on each tostada. Spoon some the cooked cactus mixture on top, and add the garnishes of your choice. I add avocado slices, queso fresco, Mexican crema and salsa verde!
REFRIED BEAN AND CHEESE CHIMICHANGAS
Chimichangas de Frijoles con Queso
4 tbsp vegetable oil, divided
1/4 cup white onion, chopped
1 jalapeño or serrano chile, seeded and chopped (more or less to taste)
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups refried beans
1/4 cup water
2 cups Mexican Manchego, Chihuahua, Monterey jack or light chedder, shredded
12 flour tortillas, medium size
Salsa of your choice
Pour 2 tablespoons of oil into a medium sized skillet set over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion and let it cook 4 to 5 minutes, until softened and translucent. Add the chile, give it a couple stirs and add the garlic. Cook until fragrant, about 15 to 30 seconds more. Incorporate refried beans along with 1/4 cup water and mix well. Let it cook and season for a couple minutes as you mash it all together. Turn off the heat.
In a comal or skillet set over medium-low heat, heat flour tortillas one at a time, about 15 seconds on each side, to soften so they won’t break when folded. Add about 2 heaping tablespoons each of refried beans and cheese near the edge of the tortilla, one at a time. Begin rolling as if making a chubby taco, after the first fold, tuck in both edges of the tortilla, continuing to roll to make a thick bundle. Flatten a bit with your hand.
Reheat remaining oil in the same saute pan or comal, over medium-low heat. Place chimichangas in batches and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until they achieve a lightly browned crust on both sides. You may also use more oil and deep-fry them over medium heat for less time, but I like the first option more…
Serve along the side of the Rabo de Mestiza eggs and spoon some of its sauce on top, or serve with the salsa of your choice.
In this post, I have invited Cristina Potters to be a guest and share one of her favorite recipes. Cristina is the author of Mexico Cooks!, a culinary and cultural website about all things Mexico. She is also known for giving outstanding tours.
A Chicago native who arrived in Mexico in 1981, she was first a social worker in Tijuana. Now, after 30 years, she is a permanent fixture in Morelia, Michoacan. She learned the cuisines of the central highlands of Mexico from the Mayoras (Michoacan home cooks). Now, without further ado, here is Cristina…
I’d like to offer my personal recipes for frijoles refritos and frijoles de la olla. The following recipe for refried beans is not only simple and delicious; it converts people who turn up their noses at ordinary refried beans into folks who insist on another helping!
Continue reading Guest: Cristina Potters’ Refried Beans
Some people get motion sickness when they travel. Some people get hungry. I am among the latter.
The minute I step on whatever will transport me from one place to another, my mind swims through related food memories… and I just have to eat. So since I know I will have a craving for something other than a moist, soggy, chewy and never-ever crunchy baguette from the Amtrak train, and after being so spoiled with the food from El Chepe Train, I am packing my own Torta.
Torta (according to me…): A satisfying and delicious, self contained, easy to transport, edible package filled with tasty ingredients that just love to schmooze together.
Continue reading I am packing my own Torta…
I am so surprised tostadas haven’t become wildly popular in the US. Here are some reasons for my surprise…
They can be assembled in a couple minutes, as ingredients can be prepared beforehand or store-bought. They can be eaten anytime of day, depending on what you layer on them. They are a wholesome one stop meal, for proteins, vegetables and carbohydrates happily mingle in there. They are accommodating, you can decide how much to add of each topping. They are forgiving, choices can vary from one tostada to the next. Moreover, they are fun to prepare, eat and share.
In a sense, they are the perfect dish for casual entertaining. So much of Mexican food just lends itself to being in a Fiesta mood.
Continue reading Tostada Buzz: To infinity, and beyond!
You will find that refried beans are one of the most common sides for traditional Mexican dishes. From breakfast, to dinner, they are always a welcome companion. You can make them with different kinds of beans, like Black, Pinto, or Peruvian. The choice in Mexico varies among regions but also among cooks. I tend to use the Pintos more, because they have a creamier consistency and softer flavor. The Black, delicious as well, have a stronger flavor and texture. The Peruvian have a peculiar flavor, that is hard to define, but it is stronger than the Pintos and lighter than the Black.
You can make the Refried beans in a traditional way, which is by mashing the Frijoles de Olla in the pan with onion that has been sauteed in lard, or you can substitute for oil. You can also make quicker and smoother Refried beans, by skipping the mashing part, and placing the Frijoles de Olla in the blender, to make a smooth Bean puree that you can then thicken and season.
Continue reading Beans: Refried Beans