18 October 2010

Mexican Vegetarian: Nopales Tacos

I live off Taco Row in Durham near all the taquerias and carnicerias and tiendas. I like to wander, a stranger in a strange land, through aisles of delicious looking hot peppers and exotic root vegetables. Unfortunately, I speak only two phrases of Spanish: "No comprendo espagñol" and "me gusto papas fritas." I know: ME STUPID AMERICAN. ME LIKE FRIED FOOD.

So when I wanted to learn Mexican vegetarian cooking, I hit a wall. I could not read Spanish-language cookbooks. All the English cookbooks I found were either not what I was looking for (substituting TVP for meat or doing a Mexican-American vegetarian fusion), or so meat-heavy that it wasn't worth my money to buy a whole book for the few vegetarian recipes.

Luckily, I have a neighbor who not only emigrated from Mexico, speaks English, and likes me, but bonus! she's a fantastic cook. Mexicans frequently cook a lot of vegetarian food because meat is expensive. I begged her to teach me some vegetarian Mexican recipes, and so far she has taught me two. This one is my favorite. You can easily turn it into a slender burrito by switching out corn tortillas with flour tortillas.

Nopales Tacos

corn tortillas with only three ingredients: corn, water, and lime
2 poblano peppers
2 yellow onions
Lime mayonnaise (either pre-made, like McCormick's, or you mix mayo or vegan mayo with fresh lime juice and paprika)
15 oz. jar nopales (cooked cactus strips)
queso fresco, mozzarella, or vegan mozzarella

  1. Wash the poblanos and then fry them in a fry pan until they are brown and puffed up all over. Immediately seal them in a ziplock plastic bag for 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, grate some of the cheese.
  3. Chop the onions. Sauté them slowly in a large fry pan until tender or golden brown, your preference. Set aside.
  4. Rinse the nopales. Seriously, soak them in water and change the water several times. You cannot overwash these things.
  5. Chop up the nopales.
  6. By now the poblanos should be done. Cut them open and rinse out the seeds. Peel off the skin under running water.
  7. Chop up the poblanos. Add the chopped poblanos and chopped nopales to the onions. Cook together about 3 minutes until heated through.
  8. In a small dry fry pan heat up a corn tortilla on medium heat. When it is soft, put it on a plate, spread on a little of the mayo, sprinkle on a little cheese, and then add a few spoonfuls of the sautéed vegetables. Fold the tortilla into a half moon.
  9. Return the the tortilla to the fry pan and cook a minute on each side so that it is a little crisp and thoroughly heated through.
  10. Serve immediately and for heaven's sake, don't shout "Voìla!"
Makes 14 or 15 tacos.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

OH MY GOSH. This sounds super amazing. I can't wait to try it

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