Dear friends and family this month has been so busy with exciting family surprises, the ebook production of Breakfast With Tofu, my contest in Santa Cruz for Nopales Recipes, colorful Mexican treats from a long awaited parent’s trip, and just a whole lot of appreciation and gratitude. This past Saturday I entered a Mexican cactus recipe contest for the Festival de Nopales in Santa Cruz CA, I submitted a recipe to compete at the cactus festival and was given 10 pounds of nopales along with all their respectable prickly thorns. My mother Kirtida who had come to visit from Texas, gladly helped me peel and remove the flesh and thorns from the flesh of the green nopale cactus. I decided to go with my traditional michoacán *Corundas filled with sautéd Nopales and Corn, and a Salsa of Nopales, Chipotle & Avocado.
*Corundas are Michoacán style tamales steamed in fresh green corn leaves, not husks.
I arrived at noon at the recipe contest booth and I had not even finished setting up my table, and there was already a line waiting for me! I was so excited but nervous at the same time! And to add to my bottle of nervousness, my competitors were from a culinary school in San Jose! The way the competition worked was they bought .25 cent per tasting and ticket. So if they liked my dish they would vote for me and buy more tickets to vote and place them in my vote box. But after a few hours of hungry consumers eager to taste a Michoacán Mexican flavor, I was 30 minutes out of everything before the contest was closed! I was so bummed I had not enough food to continue and was sure that this disadvantage was my downfall. I was so sad. When the competition ended, the administrators came and took our vote boxes. After they did the voting ticket count, they took us up on stage to announce the winner. Jaquie Perez who was a volunteer coordinator stepped up to introduce her self and announce the winner. “And the first place for the recipe contest at the Festival de Nopales is Dhanisthaaa!” Wooww, I couldn’t believe I won, even with the lack of time to continue on, I had enough votes that had saved me! I can’t thank enough for all the people that continued to come back for more and voted for me. To Tony and Jaquie for the opportunity in this recipe contest and I’m also grateful for the Santa Cruz Community Gardens for allowing me to pick their fresh corn leaves from their gardens, because without them there would be no Corundas and my family & friends for all their loving support and kindness. Yay for the Festival de Nopales!
As a token of appreciation to the people of Santa Cruz, California I will post the Corunda & salsa’s recipe from the contest sometime this week, but before I do, I want to share this nopal taco recipe that reunited my parents and sister on their first day home. Nopales have magic healing powers to them and nooo I’m not just saying Mexican superstitious myths but they actually do have many nutritional benefits, click here for Nopal nutrition info. Well I hope you like these tacos and your familia does more!
Tacos de Nopales
Serves aproximately 4
1/8 olive oil
7-10 “penkas” of nopal (whole green leaf cactus) thorns removed and sliced lengthwise ¼ – ½ inch
1/2 red onion, halved and sliced
1 cup cilantro, chopped
8 corn tortillas
salt to taste
1 cup cooked black beans
1 tbsp butter or coconut oil
2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
salt to taste
1 tbsp oil
3 roma tomatoes, quartered
1 green Serrano chili
1/4 red or yellow onion
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
salt to taste
In a large saucepan, heat oil on high and add onion and half of cilantro. Let sit for 30 seconds then stir for 1 minute and add nopales. Continue to stir every other second for 2 minutes. Cover with a lid for 5 minutes. Prick them with a knife to see if they are cooked and tender and remove the lid. If liquid is absorbed you can add a few tbsp of water. Continue to stir until they get a dark roasted color. You want to cook them on high and with enough oil to remove the sliminess of the cactus. The result will end similar to the texture of a cooked bell pepper. Cook for another 3 minutes and add salt and the rest of the cilantro.
For the beans to serve with the tacos, heat up butter on a medium flame and add cilantro till it sizzles then add beans. Stir and cook for 5 minutes until hot. You can continue to cook them down and also refry them by mashing them and adding more butter! Hehe unless your watching your calories or vegan, you can also top with queso fresco!
To make the salsa, stir fry tomatoes and Serrano chili on a tbsp of oil on high heat till they bruise. Remove and place in food processor or blender along with onions and cilantro. Blend in short pulses till its chopped, watch out not to puree it. Sometimes when you accidently heat your salsa while blending, it will cook the cilantro and it doesn’t taste good at all!
As far as the penkas of nopal, I highly suggest you buying the green cactus leaves already peeled, this will save you time and also the risk of having nasty thorns in your hands. However if you would like a demo on how to peel a nopal I can provide that upon request. Just send me a message in the comment box below I seriously do not want to see anybody hurt!
I hope you guys enjoy these tacos and I have not bored you with so many letters! Gosh I think this is the longest post ever! Thank you sooo much for reading! xoxo