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.
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
- 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.
- Meanwhile, grate some of the cheese.
- Chop the onions. Sauté them slowly in a large fry pan until tender or golden brown, your preference. Set aside.
- Rinse the nopales. Seriously, soak them in water and change the water several times. You cannot overwash these things.
- Chop up the nopales.
- By now the poblanos should be done. Cut them open and rinse out the seeds. Peel off the skin under running water.
- Chop up the poblanos. Add the chopped poblanos and chopped nopales to the onions. Cook together about 3 minutes until heated through.
- 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.
- 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.
- Serve immediately and for heaven's sake, don't shout "Voìla!"