Chopped Challenge: Nopales, Green Chilies, Cashews and Black Beans

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I want to start off by saying thank you, thank you, thank you to the four contributors to this weeks “Mystery Basket” on Facebook! I loved this combination of ingredients from the moment I saw it and was so excited to cook with Nopales (aka cactus) for the first time!

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The basket was kicked off by DeAndre Matthews with Nopales, then followed up with Black Beans from Becca Rogers, Cashews from Nicole Whelan and finished off with Green Chilies from Little Leopard Book Momma!

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My first thought was to use the cactus in a salsa, but then I thought about how fun it would be to continually say “Nopale Guacamole” (go ahead, say it!  Fun, right?) so guacamole it was! I decided to toss the green chilies into the Nopale Guacamole, as well as a few other fun things that we’ll get to in a few!

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Next, I decided to make tostadas. Tacos have already appeared a few times on LLB while tostadas have made only one appearance, anyone remember that recipe? Chocolate Bell Pepper Chorizo Tostadas with Quail Eggs, so much fun!

Then I decided to use the puree recipe from my Black Bean Chorizo Fillo Baskets to turn the black beans into a Garlic Lime Black Bean Puree for the first layer of the tostada.

Finally I decided to marinate chicken strips in  a spicy chipotle marinade, then roll the chicken in the cashews and bake them as the “meat portion” of the tostada!

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The result was a seriously delicious and complex dish with spicy, sweet, creamy, fresh and crispy components!

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Ingredients (Chipotle Cashew Chicken Tostadas – makes 6 tostadas)

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts (sliced into strips)
  • 3 oz chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 cups crushed cashews
  • 6 corn tostadas

Black Bean Puree

  • 1 can black beans (15 oz)
  • 2 garlic cloves (chopped)
  • 2 tsp avocado oil (or olive oil)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1 lime (juiced)

Nopale Guacamole (makes 4 cups)

  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 3 small tomatillos
  • 1 poblano pepper
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 4 avocados
  • ½ red onion (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup fresh nopales (spikes removed/chopped)
  • 4 oz green chilies
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro
  • 2 limes (juiced)

Optional Toppings

  • cotija cheese
  • sour cream
  • cilantro

Begin the recipe by preparing the chicken.  First combine the chipotle peppers, cumin, honey, lime juice and olive oil in a food processor.  Once mixed into a puree, place in a bowl and add the chicken (a bigger bowl wouldn’t have been a horrible idea here!)

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Place the marinating chicken in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.  Next, place the cashews in a food processor until they are of a fine crumb consistency.

Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and dredge in the crushed cashews.

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Next, place the breaded chicken on a wire rack on top of a baking sheet.

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Bake at 350° for 15 minutes, flip, then bake for an additional 15 minutes.

While the chicken is baking, prepare the black bean puree by simply placing all of the ingredients in the food processor and blending until smooth.  (Yes, that does mean I used (and washed) my food processor 3 times today!  What a well-used Christmas gift!)

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Place the puree in a saucepan on the stove over medium heat for 5 minutes before preparing the tostadas.

In the meantime prepare the guacamole by first slicing the red pepper, jalapeño, poblano chili and tomatillos into approximately 1 inch strips and place on a baking sheet for roasting.

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I also roasted some cactus to decide which I liked better, raw or roasted, in the guacamole.  I ended up going with the raw, but if you would like some roasted cactus, throw it on there, it’s delicious!

Roast under the broiler on high for 6 minutes, rotating every 2 minutes to make sure that everything roasts evenly.  (This is when a round baking stone or dish comes in handy!)

Remove from the oven and quickly place the jalapeños, poblanos and red peppers in a plastic bag and zip closed. (This makes them easier to peel!)

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Next, mash the avocados in a large bowl, then add the red onions, nopales (cactus), green chilies, cilantro and lime juice.

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Next, peel the roasted peppers, chilies and tomatillos, then add to the guacamole. Voila! A delicious, chunky, flavorful guacamole awaits your taste buds!

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At this point, things should be coming together and you can begin assembling the tostadas!

Start by spreading the black bean puree on each tostada, next place the chicken on top of the bean puree, then the guacamole on top of that. You can also add sour cream, cotija cheese or cilantro at this time!  I ended up omitting the sour cream simply because I didn’t feel the need for it, but I like to give options, so there you have it :-)

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Nopales can be found at most major grocery stores in the jar, that was what I happened to find first, but was not necessarily my first choice for the recipe! My motto is, “fresh is always best!”, so I ventured further to a large Mexican market where I found the-real-deal nopales and already de-spiked and cut nopales!

So basically I now have a ton of cactus!

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If I were the betting type, I’d place a nice little wager on more cactus recipes appearing soon on LLB ;-)

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Although this seems like a complicated dish, each aspect is pretty simple, it’s just putting them all together that takes a little time, but I promise, it is well worth the end result!

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The guacamole alone is amazing and will definitely make an appearance on my “Gameday Grub” menu for the Superbowl!

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Now grab a fork (or in this case your hands will do!) and dig in!

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♣ Vegetarian Option: Substitute tofu for chicken.

♦ Gluten Free Option: This recipe is gluten-free. (Make sure to use corn tostadas, not flour!)

♥ All pottery seen on the littleleopardbook can be purchased by visiting www.longaberger.com/muffetbond or e-mailing keepsakebl@sbcglobal.net.

Chipotle Cashew Chicken Tostadas

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Yield: 6 Tostadas

Chipotle Cashew Chicken Tostadas

Ingredients

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts (sliced into strips)
  • 3 oz chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 cups crushed cashews
  • 6 corn tostadas
  • Black Bean Puree
  • 1 can black beans (15 oz)
  • 2 garlic cloves (chopped)
  • 2 tsp avocado oil (or olive oil)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1 lime (juiced)
  • Nopale Guacamole
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 3 small tomatillos
  • 1 poblano pepper
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 4 avocados
  • ½ red onion (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup fresh nopales (spikes removed/chopped)
  • 4 oz green chilies
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro
  • 2 limes (juiced)
  • Optional Toppings
  • cotija cheese
  • sour cream
  • cilantro

Instructions

  1. Begin the recipe by preparing the chicken. First combine the chipotle peppers, cumin, honey, lime juice and olive oil in a food processor. Once mixed into a puree, place in a bowl and add the chicken.
  2. Place the marinating chicken in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Next, place the cashews in a food processor until they are of a fine crumb consistency.
  3. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and dredge in the crushed cashews.
  4. Next, place the breaded chicken on a wire rack on top of a baking sheet.
  5. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes, flip, then bake for an additional 15 minutes.
  6. While the chicken is baking, prepare the black bean puree by simply placing all of the ingredients in the food processor and blending until smooth.
  7. Place the puree in a saucepan on the stove over medium heat for 5 minutes before preparing the tostadas.
  8. In the meantime prepare the guacamole by first slicing the red pepper, jalapeño, poblano chili and tomatillos into approximately 1 inch strips and place on a baking sheet for roasting.
  9. Roast under the broiler on high for 6 minutes, rotating every 2 minutes to make sure that everything roasts evenly.
  10. Remove from the oven and quickly place the jalapeños, poblanos and red peppers in a plastic bag and zip closed. (This makes them easier to peel!)
  11. Next, mash the avocados in a large bowl, then add the red onions, nopales (cactus), green chilies, cilantro and lime juice.
  12. Next, peel the roasted peppers, chilies and tomatillos, then add to the guacamole.
  13. Start by spreading the black bean puree on each tostada, next place the chicken on top of the bean puree, then the guacamole on top of that. You can also add sour cream, cotija cheese or cilantro at this time.
http://littleleopardbook.com/2013/01/24/chopped-challenge-nopales-green-chilies-cashews-and-black-beans/