Nopales or nopalitos are the leaves or pads of the opuntia or prickly pear cactus and are very popular throughout Mexico. They have a tart taste with a texture rather like string beans and are used in stews, soups, salads, and with eggs. In New Mexico as well as in Mexico, they are sold fresh, spines removed, and peeled. They are then diced or cut in strips, simmered in salted water until tender, and then drained and rinsed. This is an important step as they can be "slippery" like okra. If you can’t find them fresh, they are readily available in jars or cans.
Mushrooms are a popular tapa ingredient all over Spain and they are fried, gilled, marinated, or stuffed. Another popular ingredient is Spanish garlic. Prized around the world for its flavor, it is abundantly used in Spanish cooking There are many variations of mushrooms and garlic but the following with chile is one of my favorites. White, button mushrooms are traditionally used, but any mushroom, such as a sliced portobello or cremini mushroom, are a good substitute. If you have access to wild mushrooms, they are wonderful in this recipe.
The heat of the green chile compliments the flavor of the artichoke hearts in this pasta dish that combines the flavors of the Southwest with those of Italy. Serve with a crisp garden salad and garlic toast for a light meatless meal.
Nothing beats snacking on chips dipped in chile con queso while drinking a Negra Modelo and watching football. Here is a slightly different take on the dip, one that avoids American or processed cheese.
Before you go on to another recipe, stop and give this a try! This is not the famed "traveling fruitcake" recipe—the the mythical fruitcake that never spoils and is never eaten! Nope, this is a green chile fruit cake, new and improved, and sassier than ever. Read more great spicy cake recipes by Dave DeWitt here.
Green chile pasta has been popular in the Southwest for many years. It is surprisingly easy to make, and even easier to eat. Just remember that if you are using fresh or canned green chiles, it is necessary to remove all of the liquid, or the excess liquid will interfere with the water measurement.
This Southwestern adaptation of the Italian specialty uses green chile and spinach in place of the traditional basil in the pesto. It has a very concentrated flavor—as do all pestos, so a little bit goes a long way. This pasta topper is also good on grilled meats or fish, burgers, and sandwiches.
Why wouldn’t the cooks of Cerén have developed sauces to serve over meats and vegetables? After all, there is evidence that curry mixtures were in existence thousands of years ago in what is now India, and we have to assume that Native Americans experimented with all available ingredients. Perhaps this mole sauce was served over stewed duck meat, as ducks were one of the domesticated meat sources of the Cerén villagers.