Nopalitos & Homemade Refried Bean Tacos
This is a truly satisfying meal. You can prepare this as a lunch, too.
We love to use the Rancho Gordo Ojo de Cabra (“Eye of the Goat”) bean. This is a bean that has a phenomenal pot broth.
Since we use the bean liquid for our refried beans, the Ojo de Cabra bean is a stellar bean.
It’s also a beautiful bean.
These tacos are stunning with local goat cheese and tomatillo salsa, and even some guac, if you so desire. Use local Rancho Gordo or the thicker, stoneground Primavera tortillas.
Nopales, as many as you’d like
1 1/2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 bag (1 lb) Rancho Gordo Ojo de Cabra (“Eye of the Goat”) dried beans
2 large onions (1 onion peeled and chopped in half & the other onion minced)
5 peeled cloves garlic (or more, 6-8)
few sprigs cilantro
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp salt
dash of baking soda
Equipment you will need: Cast iron skillet, large non-stick saute pan, soup pot, potato masher, cutting knives
*Note: If you don’t have nopalitos, or cannot find any (because it’s not springtime), then just use poblano peppers. Or canned Hatch chiles! Those work very well, too.
Pour the bag or 1 lb. of the dried beans into a soup pot. Cover the beans with water by 2 inches. Throw in a dash of baking soda. Heat on high to a boil; boil for five minutes. Turn off the heat & remove from heat. Let the beans rest in the water for at least one hour.
One hour is sufficient. However, if you find that it’s easier for you to boil the beans for five minutes & let them sit for longer – even 6 hours – that’s fine, too. You will need to cover the beans with a little more water (one inch) when you follow the next series of steps.
If you want to soak the beans in a more traditional way – overnight – that is totally fine, too. Just still throw in a dash of baking soda.
Add the peeled, chopped onion (onion should only be chopped in half), peeled garlic cloves and cilantro to the pot.
Bring the beans to a boil again. Simmer on a medium rigorous boil for an hour or more, until the beans are very tender. Just before the beans are tender, add the salt.
If the water is evaporating too quickly, add water – keep those beans covered as they simmer!
Take out the onion and cilantro, leave the garlic. (Admittedly, I can’t even find the onion or cilantro half the time – and the beans turn out flavorful, no matter!)
Reserve 1 1/2 – 2 cups bean liquid and 5 cups beans.
Heat the large non-stick saute pan to medium high. Add the olive oil, heat for a minute in the pan. Add the minced onion, and cook until the onion color changes to nearly translucent.
Add the beans and their liquid to the onions. Simmer the broth until it has reduced to 3/4 cup.
Mash the beans with the potato masher. If you find you don’t have much liquid left, add a little water to keep the beans moist.
Optional: Add chopped cilantro, chopped jalapeno or serrano chiles.
You’ll want enough room in the cast-iron skillet, so that you’re not steaming nopales, but sauteing them.
Trim the nopales so any sharp parts are removed (even the duller “knobby” parts).
Thinly slice the nopales so the pieces are the thickness of regular green beans.
Heat a cast-iron skillet on high. Add the oil. Add the sliced nopales with a good amount of kosher salt.
Saute on high for 6-10 minutes, until the juice from the nopales runs dry.
Serve immediately, on top of fresh, warm tortillas and fresh refried beans. Top with goat cheese for a perfect match!
Early Autumn in San Francisco: Fresh Heirloom Tomato Sauce with Pasta
This only comes once a year, and is so easy and satisfying. Wait until late September or early October, when the price/lb of the Heirlooms drops to a more affordable level.
For a taste of late summer/early autumn during the darker days, freeze this sauce in glass mason jars. It freezes well, up to 3 months.
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium cloves garlic, minced or crushed
2 pounds* heirloom tomatoes, chopped to 1/2-inch pieces
3-4 tablespoons fresh basil, minced
Salt and pepper
1 pound penne pasta (for a gluten-free dinner, use gluten-free penne, like Tinkyada)
Optional: 1 15-oz can Eden Organics Cannellini Beans for texture, rinsed and drained
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat in a medium-sized heavy saucepan. Add the garlic, stirring for about 30 seconds, being careful not to burn the garlic.
Add the chopped tomatoes, bring to a gentle boil and simmer on medium low for 10 minutes, so the tomatoes will break up and thicken.
Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a separate pot. When boiling, add 1 tablespoon of salt along with the pasta. Cook according to pasta type.
Near the end of the cooking time, scoop out (with a glass measuring cup) 1/2 cup pasta cooking water and set aside.
After 10 minutes of the sauce cooking, stir in the basil and add 1/2 teaspoon salt & pepper to taste. (If you’re adding the cannelloni beans, add them now and stir gently.)
Drain the cooked pasta and add to the tomato sauce. Add the reserved 1/2 cup cooking water, along with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Stir and heat on low for 1 minute.
Serve, with a simple tossed green salad on the side.
*In my family, we have a lot of “good luck” tablespoons and poundage additions for our food. So if you need a little good luck, increase the tomatoes to 2 1/2 pounds.
But be prepared for a much looser sauce, so include fresh loaves of bread (either gluten or gluten-free) for dipping.
Also, the more varied in the color of the heirloom tomatoes, the better!
Stuffed acorn squash with brown rice and nuts
The simplest way to bake any hard squash is to cut it in half, remove the strings and seeds, sprinkle the surface with oil, and place the halves face-down on a biking pan lined with water.
Once the squash is baked, scoop the pulp out of the skin and eat as is, or add the mashed pulp to soup or stew. Here is a decorative, nutritious and tasty recipe with flavors of Indian spices.
To prepare the rice, bring 2 ½ cups of water to boil. Rinse and drain the rice and add it to the boiling water. Cover the pot, reduce heat to moderate, and cook for 45 to 55 minutes, until soft. You will not use all of the rice for this recipe, refrigerate any leftover rice for future use.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a shallow baking dish with ½ cup water. Rub some oil on the surface of the squash and place face-down in the baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes, until the flesh is soft. Cool for a few minutes. Carefully scoop out most of the pulp with a spoon, leaving enough to keep the squash “bowls” intact. Place the pulp in a mixing bowl. Set the squash halves aside.
Combine the squash pulp, two cups of rice, nuts, cilantro, green onion, turmeric, salt, cayenne, lemon juice and oil. Spoon the mixture into the squash halves. Turn the oven up to 450 degrees. Sprinkle with the vegan cheese or nutritional yeast. Place the stuffed squash in a dry, shallow casserole dish or cookie sheet, and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the top is slightly brown. Advise the diners to scoop out the filling as they eat, leaving the shells behind.
Ginger Beet Soup
Hearty and warming, this colorful soup is easy to prepare and easier to enjoy!
7 cups water or vegetable stock
4 medium to large beets
1 large or 2 small carrots
1 bunch leafy greens
½ bunch green onions
2-4 garlic cloves
1 thumb-sized chunk of raw ginger
*1 thumb-sized chunk of raw turmeric (optional)
8-10 oz firm tofu
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
In large soup pot bring 6 cups of water or stock to a boil. Chop beets and carrots in half-inch cubes and leafy greens into bite-sized strips and boil uncovered until soft but not mushy (20-30 minutes). Add cubed tofu and chopped bulbs of green onion and let simmer, covered, for approx. 10 minutes. While simmering, combine the last cup of water in a small saucepan with the soy sauce, grated ginger, and garlic (plus optional grated turmeric for extra warmth and color) and bring to a boil. Add contents to soup pot and simmer together for approx. five minutes, adding salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped green onion stalks and serve with rice, bread, or fried plantains.