Nopales Salad

Did I mention that we have the bestest neighbors?  If the Awesomest neighbor fixes our food processors and washes our car, the other neighbor feeds us.  This guy is pretty cool even though he has guns. He makes the best nopales salad I have ever eaten!  It is heavenly! I guess it reminds me of the Russian vinegret, though the pickles are replaced with cactus, that has a somewhat salty-sour flavor; black beans are used instead of potatoes and carrots, and Mexican cheese is added for a more delicate flavor – all in all a healthier, more nutritious version.

Our first attempt at making nopales ended up in a complete disaster as we bought unprepared cactus leaves at the farmers market.  Unless you enjoy tedious tasks similar to fish filleting combined with hedgehog petting you will not appreciate dealing with these guys! 

Apparently, they sell dethorned and chopped nopales at Mexican grocery stores – easy, breezy, …easy!

My neighbor encourages to use your own imagination when coming up with ingredients and dressings (in fact I had 3 different versions of his salad and made a couple of different versions myself ).  So, turn your creative side on and enjoy!Apparently, they sell dethorned and chopped nopales at Mexican grocery stores – easy, breezy, …easy!

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NAPALES SALAD

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup of black beans, soaked overnight or for at least 8 hours
  • 1 large beet
  • 1,5 cups of chopped and de-thorned nopales
  • 1 medium onion, peeled, and chopped
  • 4 oz of queso fresco (Mexican cheese, could be substituted with feta), chopped or crumbled
  • ½ bunch of cilantro, chopped
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 4-5 radishes, chopped
  • 1 chili pepper, diced
  • 4 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tbs balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Wash and drain the beans, place them into a soup pot, cover with water (about 2 inches of water over the beans), and boil for about 45 minutes until soft. Drain and chill.

Peel the beet and slice it into ¼ inch-thick disks, steam for 10-15 minutes until tender. Let chill for about 10 minutes, and chop the disks into cubes.

Bring 4 cups of water to boil, add a little salt.  Dump chopped nopales into the water, and boil for about 10 minutes.  Drain and wash under cold water to remove all the goo.

Make the dressing: whisk olive oil and vinegar together, add salt and pepper to taste.

Combine all the salad ingredients and add toss them with the dressing.

Serve by itself or with chips or tortillas.

Buckwheat Patties with Roasted Vegetables

Since we stopped eating meat, our fridge changed drastically.  We always brought the majority of our groceries from the local farmers markets.  Now our fridge looks more like the farmers markets moved in!  We probably can easily feed ourselves, another family, a few neighbors, and a small cow. 

My men do most of our shopping.  It was only logical that they decided that a couple chicken breasts could be easily replaced with some extra fruit and vegetables… So, in addition to our usual stock, now every week I’m facing about 3 bonus bags of greens, 2 cabbages, 3 different kinds of kale, and a box of mandarins.  Seems sufficient…

The ladies of the house do their job too by filling up kitchen cabinets with grain.  Russian national diet is unthinkable without rye, wheat, barley, millet, or buckwheat; for some reason they seem even more important to me now… 

The idea of today’s dinner partially came from The Resilient Chef.  The post that inspired it helped me realize that by slightly adjusting the recipes based on what’s available in the kitchen, I can stop worrying about wasting food, and start emptying that overcrowded fridge… and , yes honey, the cabinets as well…

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INGREDIENTS:

ROASTED VEGETABLES

  • Various vegetables from the fridge (root vegetables work great)
  • 2 tbs rosemary leaves
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ tsp salt

BUCKWHEAT PATTIES

  • 2 cups buckwheat cooked in salted water
  • 4 oz goat cheese
  • ½ cup yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbs flex seeds, ground
  • ½ cup bread crumbs (optional)

CILANTRO SAUCE

  • 1 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 tbs fresh lemon juice
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 425⁰F /220 ⁰C.

Prepare the vegetables: cube the vegetables, considering the time it takes to cook them: larger chunks for fast-roasting items, and smaller chunks for longer-roasting stuff.

Prepare the dressing by combining lemon juice, olive oil, pressed garlic, salt, and pepper.  Coat the vegetables with the dressing, and sprinkle with rosemary leaves.  Toss everything well.  Place in a baking sheet, cover with foil, and bake for about 15 minutes.  Remove foil, and bake for another 5 minutes to get the crust.  Check the vegetables on readiness, and adjust cooking time and temperature if needed.

Prepare the buckwheat patties: combine all the ingredients but bread crumbs, and mix well.  Make patties.  If desired, roll them in the bread crumbs.  We like to use Panco.  Fry in olive oil on medium high heat for about 4 minutes on each side.

Make ahead: the uncooked patties could be frozen in an air-tight bag for up to 3 months.

Prepare the cilantro sauce: process all the ingredients in a food processor.  Adjust the flavors by adding salt and pepper.

Evil Mother In Law Corn Casserole

I call today’s dish “Evil Mother-In-Law Corn Casserole”.  Oh no, not because the MIL (who kindly shared this recipe) is evil (wink-wink); but because it has a stick of Butter in it!

This is as simple and unhealthy as it could go, But… er… so good!

Well, if you are scared of the “B“-word, here is my little secret: you can skip it all together…  You will hear a little less “Wow”-s and “Ah”-s, but it still comes out quite edible.

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EVIL MOTHER-IN-LAW CORN CASSEROLE

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 (8.5 ounce) package dry corn bread mix (Jiffy)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 (14.75 ounce) can creamed corn
  • 1 cup sour cream
 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F , and lightly grease a casserole dish.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine butter, eggs, corn bread mix, whole and creamed corn and sour cream. Spoon mixture into the dish.
  3. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown
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