This is both a deliciously intriguing and a perplexingly open-ended challenge. Any fruit. Any vegetable. Any three ways. To narrow down the endless choices, I decided I'd make three things that would form a part of one dish. The trick would be to manipulate one ingredient into three components with different, yet complementary, tastes and textures.
So I chose something both versatile, and, I hope, a bit unique (at least in my neck of the woods). Nopales, or cactus paddles:
my visit to Mexico City, it's become one of my absolute favorite cuisines in the world, and I love trying my hand at Mexican dishes whenever I can. Nopales are a common ingredient there and easily found, and I'm lucky that my local Mexican grocery carries them - with the thorns already removed! They taste a bit like a cross between green beans and asparagus, with a bit of a lemon-y overtone.
I decided I'd make a salsa verde, pickled nopales, and nopales quesadillas with habenero jack and queso fresco. As I made my quesadillas very cheesy they are actually more Tex Mex than authentically Mexican. But very good nonetheless!
For the pickled nopales, I cut one cactus paddle into strips and covered it in salt for about an hour to draw out the slime. For the salsa verde, I roasted the paddles whole, and for the quesadillas I boiled chopped nopales and then rinsed them several times. The boiling method worked best at eradicating slime, but none of the dishes were what I would consider off-puttingly slimy.
|Look Ma, no slime!|
For the salsa verde: Over the flame of your gas stove, roast one Poblano pepper, one jalapeno, and one Serrano pepper until black. Meanwhile, in the oven at 400 F, roast 5 tomatillos, 1/2 white onion, and 2 salted cactus paddles until the tomatillos split. Peel the blackened peppers, give everything a rough chop and and whizz it all together to a chunky texture with an immersion blender, along with a handful of cilantro, a squeeze of lime, and salt to taste. Refrigerate.
For the quesadillas, boil chopped nopales and rinse. On a corn tortilla layer refried beans, shredded habanero jack cheese and the nopales. Top with a corn tortilla and fry on a hot skillet until the cheese melts. Garnish with queso fresco, salsa verde, and pickled nopales.
And then enjoy the spicy goodness.
Lazaro's round up on August 29. But don't worry, I will remind you if you forget!