Trendy Mexican food! This is a nice tasting salad that is full of great flavor!
Taco salads were once the rage, a crispy tortilla was part of many salads in Mexico long before taco salads came to be. Tortillas can add crunch and they can become part of the presentation by shaping the tortilla to best suit the salad. The tortilla in the photographs was shaped like a backstop, so the salad ingredients could cascade forward.
Nopales are prickly pear cactus paddles or nearly any type of paddle cactus. The spines are trimmed off with a filet knife and the bare paddles are either cooked, marinated, canned or pickled. Raw nopales can be eaten, but they taste better when quickly pickled escabeche style. On their own, nopales have a fairly neutral green vegetable flavor. The juice from fresh nopales can act as a sauce thickener. Just like prickly pear fruit, nopales have good health benefits and nutritional value.
Tortilla Shell Recipe:
Lightly brush a flour tortilla with blended olive oil.
Drape the tortilla over an empty large ramekin or tin can that is placed on a baking pan. Drape the tortilla, so it forms a backstop shape or so it looks like the seat of a chair.
Bake the tortilla in a 350 degree oven, till it becomes crisp and lightly toasted.
Carefully trim any excess tortilla shell off of the base of the tortilla shell after it cools with a knife. (Trim the base, so the tortilla stands upright.)
Lightly season the toasted shaped tortilla with sea salt and set it aside.
Fresh Nopales Preparation:
Trimmed prickly pear cactus paddle strips are called nopales in Mexico. Canned nopales can be used for this recipe, but I chose to prepare fresh prickly pear cactus paddles.
When trimming cactus paddles, wear a kitchen dishwasher's thick heavy gauge rubber glove to protect the hands from the small cactus spines.
A sharp curved boning knife is best for trimming the spines off of a cactust paddle.
Simply use a shallow escallop style slice with the knife under each group of small cactus spines. Try to retain as much of the cactus paddle skin as possible and try to only remove the spines.
Slice the bare spineless prickly pear cactus paddle into thin 1/4" wide strips.
One handful of nopales strips are needed for this recipe.
Salad Plate Set Up:
Place a few trimmed whole baby romaine leaves on a plate as a salad bed.
Set the tortilla shell on top of the bed of romaine leaves.
Fill the tortilla shell with chopped romaine.
Garnish the romaine leaves on the plate with tomato slices.
Sprinkle a few toasted pepitas (calabaza seeds) over the salad.
Sprinkle a few rinsed cooked pinto beans or rinsed canned pinto beans over the salad.
Place a few thin avacado slices over the salad.
Sprinkle a little bit of match stick cut carrot strips over the salad.
Drape a few thin slices of roasted peeled pimiento over the lettuce.
Tequila Cilantro Shrimp and Nopales Recipe:
Heat a saute pan over medium heat.
Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
Add 2 cloves of chopped garlic.
Add 6 large peeled shrimp.
Add 1 handful of nopales.
Add 12 to 15 coarsly chopped cilantro leaves.
Add sea salt and black pepper.
Add 1 chopped green onion.
Saute the ingredients, till the shrimp become halfway cooked.
Add 1/2 cup of tequila.
Add 1/3 cup of water.
Reduce the temperature to low heat.
The cactus juice will thicken the tequila sauce slightly as the sauce reduces.
Simmer and reduce the sauce, till it becomes a thin sauce consistency.
Add 1/2 tablespoon of lime juice.
Toss the ingredients together.
Remove the pan from the heat.
Add 1 tablespoon of virgin olive oil.
Add 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar.
Toss the ingredients together.
Place the shrimp on top of the romaine lettuce in the tortilla shell.
Cascade the nopales over the shrimp.
Spoon the warm tequila dressing from the pan over the shrimp and salad.
Sprinkle some thin sliced green onion over the salad.
This salad is pretty, tasty and very light! Fresh cooked nopales have a nice green vegetable cactus flavor. The tequila flavor is very mild and subtle and it combines with the flavor of the nopales. The crispy pepitas (toasted hulled calabaza seeds) and tortilla shell add crunchy texture. Yummy! ... Shawna