Magazine article Sunset

Nopales for Newbies: Get Past the Prickly Parts, and You'll He Hooked on Cactus's Lemony Flavor

Magazine article Sunset

Nopales for Newbies: Get Past the Prickly Parts, and You'll He Hooked on Cactus's Lemony Flavor

Article excerpt

GRILLED STEAK and NOPALES SALAD  SERVES 4/ 1 1/4 HOURS  Nopales pads are ideal for this citrusy salad because they can be grilled, but you can also use pieces and saute them (see step 1 of quesadillas recipe, page 92).  3 medium nopales pads   (12 oz. total), prepped   (see "Nopales Basics,"   page 92) 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil 2 tbsp. lime juice 1 tsp. dried Mexican   oregano, crumbled About 3/4 tsp. kosher salt 1/8 tsp. cayenne 1 1/4 lbs. skirt steak, cut in   half crosswise 2 1/2 qts. (5 oz.) baby   romaine lettuce leaves 3/4 cup loosely packed   cilantro sprigs 10 radishes, quartered 1 large poblano chile 1/2 cup coarsely crumbled   cotija cheese * 1/3 cup roasted, salted   hulled pumpkin seeds   (pepitas) *  1. Heat a grill to high (450[degrees] to 550[degrees]). Cut parallel slashes on nopales about 1 in. apart from tips to 1 1/2 in. from bases (keep bases intact). In a small bowl, whisk oil, lime juice, oregano, 3A tsp. salt, and the cayenne. Spoon 2 tbsp. dressing into a medium bowl, add steak, and toss to coat; set aside. Brush nopales with a little dressing. Set remaining dressing aside.  2. Put lettuce, cilantro, and most of radishes in a large bowl; cover and chill.  3. Grill chile, turning often, until blackened all over, about 10 minutes. Grill nopales, turning once, until juices cook off and bright color fades, 6 to 8 minutes.  4. Let vegetables cool briefly, then cut nopales into 1/2-by 2-in. strips. Peel, stem, seed, and chop chile. Toss vegetables in a medium bowl with cup dressing.  5. Grill steak, turning once, until grill marks appear, 4 to 5 minutes. Set on a board; let rest briefly. Slice across grain on a diagonal; toss with nopales and chile.  6. Add remaining dressing to lettuce and toss to coat. Arrange on a platter. Put steak mixture in the center. Sprinkle with cotija, pumpkin seeds, and remaining radishes. Season with more salt to taste.  * Find cotija and hulled pumpkin seeds at well-stocked grocery stores and Latino markets. If seeds are raw, saute over medium heat with 1 tsp. oil, stirring often, until golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Salt to taste.  PER SERVING 654 Cal., 73% (477 Cal.) from fat; 36 g protein; 54 g fat (16 g sat.); 8 g carbo (3.6 g fiber); 1,001 mg sodium; 88 mg chol. GF 

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

STACKED NOPALES QUESADILLAS  SERVES 4/45 MINUTES  With the brightness of cactus and smoky heat of chipotles, this is our favorite new way to make quesadillas. Blended corn-wheat tortillas get nice and crisp in the oven.  3 medium nopales pads (12 oz.   total), prepped (see "Nopales   Basics" at right); or buy strips 2 tsp. plus 2 tbsp. extra-virgin   olive oil, divided 1 tsp. lemon juice 3/4 tsp. kosher salt, divided 3 to 4 tsp. minced canned   chipotle chile, divided 1 medium firm-ripe avocado,   diced 2 green onions, thinly sliced,   divided 3 1/2 cups (10 oz.) shredded jack   cheese 12 tortillas, about 5 in. wide,   either a corn-wheat blend* or   all corn 2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce  1. Preheat oven to 500[degrees] with rack set in upper third. Meanwhile, cut nopales into 1/2- by 2-in. strips. In a frying pan, saute nopales over high heat with 2 tsp. oil until pan is mostly dry, 5 minutes. Reduce heat; cook until barely tender, 3 minutes more. Set aside.  2. In a bowl, whisk lemon juice, 1 tbsp. oil, 1/4 tsp. salt, and half of chipotle. Gently stir in avocado; set aside. … 
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