Posts Tagged With: Southwest food

Nopalitos for a Healthy Side Dish

The Savor Sisters, Amy, Carolyn, and Tia Marta, are good friends, but busy lives mean we rarely get together. Recently we gathered for a memorial service.

For nine years now, we Savor Sisters have regularly brought you interesting and unusual recipes for both wild and heritage foods of the Southwest.  If there is a delicious Southwest food, we’ve probably written about it. We concentrate on the food, not ourselves. But recently we found ourselves at the same event, celebrating the life of ecologist Tony Burgess.  Thought you might be interested in the faces behind the recipes.

Gather prickly pear pads when they are young and tender.

In the spring, I like to remind people that it’s time to gather and cook fresh nopales or prickly pear pads. Although all prickly pear pads are edible, you want to look for the Ficus indica,  the kind imported from Mexico with fewer spines.  (The native Engelmann Opuntia produce better fruit.) Gather the pads in your or a neighbor’s yard (ask!) using tongs or buy them from a Mexican grocery store.

Although this variety of prickly pear lacks the big spines of the native variety, they still have very small spines that need to be removed before cooking. In this column we’ve discussed many times how to clean them.  Here are the instructions with photos. Wild food enthusiast, Chad Borseth, has put together a helpful video on cleaning freshly harvested nopal pads. You can watch it here. Chad doesn’t have gloves on and is courting disaster. I suggest you wear rubber gloves, just the kind you get at the grocery for washing dishes are adequate.  Also, keep a tweezers handy. If you get a sticker in your finger, just take it out. Don’t make a big deal out of it.

Once you have cleaned the prickly pear pads, you can cut them into small pieces (nopalitos) or strips, coat them with a little oil, and either fry or grill or bake in the oven. When they turn olive green, they are done. 

Nopales are delicious and also really healthy. Medical studies have confirmed the folk wisdom that they are great at reducing blood sugar and cholesterol. In fact one study showed that just two small pads eaten daily can control non-insulin dependent diabetes and prevent it from worsening.

Today, I want to give you some easy ideas what to do with the nopales once you’ve cooked them. Whenever you are introducing a new unusual food to people who might be a little skeptical (or maybe it is you who is skeptical!), it is good to include them in something familiar. So here are some of my favorites. Be creative and include nopales in your family favorites.

Tomato Nopalito Salsa: In a bowl combine 1/2 cup tomato salsa (homemade or commercial), 1/2 cup cooked black beans, 1/2 cup cooked nopalitos, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro, 1 tablespoon lime juice. Serve with chips and watch it disappear. 

Grilled Chicken with Nopalito and Pineapple Salsa

Pineapple Salsa:  Combine cooked nopalitos with crushed pineapple, red pepper, onion, garlic and other flavorings. Terrific as a topping for grilled chicken.  See complete recipe in previous post here.

Fundido de Nopalito: In a small black iron frying pan, brown 1/4 cup chorizo until cooked. Add 1/4 cup cooked nopalitos, and top with 1/4 cup shredded Mexican or Monterrey jack cheese. Heat in 400 degree oven until cheese melts. Serve with soft tortillas or chips. This recipe makes a small amount so be prepared to make more right away.

Nopalito tacos: Cooked nopales have the texture and bite of meat so they make great vegetarian tacos. Use nice soft flour tortillas (the small ones). For tacos, cut your nopales in strips. Top with salsa and cheese. Add chicken or fish if you like. 

Use your own recipe for Apple and Carrot Salad and add nopalitos in small dice.

Apple, Carrot and Nopalito Salad:  This is a Southwest twist on an American classic. Use your own recipe or follow the directions here. 

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Want more recipes for prickly pear and other wild foods? You’ll find delicious ways to bring these healthy plants to your table in my cookbooks Cooking the Wild Southwest: Delicious Recipes for Wild Plants and The Prickly Pear Cookbook. The links take you on-line, but consider ordering from your local bookstore. They will love you for it. 

Categories: Sonoran Native | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Treat yourself day: Scallops with Mole Verde

Hello Friends, I’ve always wanted to try mole with scallops since I saw saw it in a book. It paired a very modern white chocolate mole with scallops. Wanting to treat myself to a special meal today, I thought I would give it a go with my own mole.

I started with Mano Y Metate Mole Verde powder, sautéed in mild oil and thinned with chicken broth.

I broke out a stash of wild rice that a friend had given me as a gift. It was collected on lakes in northern Minnesota and parched over a wood fire.

For a wild salad, I harvested some sorrel, parsley and garlic chives from the garden.

For bite I added some volunteer mustard greens aka “wild arugula” and for creaminess some avacado.

The scallops only needed a rinse, a pat dry and a sprinkle of salt.

I seared in part oil and part butter on a hot skillet

Which went FAST!!!!

I hope you take the time for self care and make yourself a treat today, too. Love, Amy

Categories: Cooking, herbs, Mexican Food, Sonoran Native, Southwest Food, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Barrel Cactus Fruit and Lemon Combine for Tangy Winter Treat

Barrel cactus fruit and lemons are tasty winter companions.

When I look back at the many blog posts we Savor Sisters have written over the years, frequently there are recipes including barrel cactus at this time of year. In a season where most other plants are resting and waiting out the cold desert nights, barrel cactus are providing glowing yellow fruit in abundance. January is also the season for citrus in the Southwest and there is no shortage of delicious baking recipes using lemon.

It’s Carolyn today and I’m going to modify a lemon recipe I’ve made a couple of times during the pandemic, a time many of us were amusing ourselves with baked goods. The original recipe starts with lemon, but I’m adding poached lemon-y barrel cactus fruit along with the crunchy seeds to make more of a good thing. However, you can making this recipe the super-easy way by just using the barrel cactus seeds and skipping the poached fruit topping. Suit yourself. In any case, you’ll end up with something delicious.  The recipe includes turmeric, a spice that has healthful properties. I’m not sure I can taste it, but it adds a bright yellow color that psychologically enhances the lemon flavors as we taste with our eyes as well as our mouth.

Preparing the Barrel Cactus Seeds and Slices

It is easiest to get the seeds by gathering your cactus fruit in advance. Halve the fruit and put it out in the sun. Once the fruit is dry, the seeds release more easily.  Now for the fruit topping. (You can skip this if you wish.) Choose four of the best barrel cactus fruit halves. Scoop out the seeds as well as you can and add to the others that are drying. Using your sharpest knife, slice the fruit as thinly as possible. Try to get about 36 slices. Put the slices in a small frying pan, cover with water, and simmer for a couple of minutes. Drain, return to the pan, add two tablespoons of water and two tablespoons of sugar. Simmer for about a minute, remove slices and dry on a sheet of waxed paper. 

Slice the fruit thinly and rinse off the seeds, catching them in a sieve. Don’t clog your drain!

Some time during the 2000s, I began to learn about lining baking pans with parchment paper to help release cakes and breads. It takes extra time but does help with sticking. 

Consider lining your baking pan with parchment paper. When positioning your candied cactus fruit, lay the pieces crosswise to help in slicing.

Lemon Barrel Cactus Cake

Nonstick cooking spray or oil for greasing pan

1½ cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2-3 tablespoons barrel cactus seeds

¾ teaspoon ground turmeric

2 lemons

1 cup granulated sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for sprinkling

¾ cup  Greek yogurt

2 large eggs, beaten

½ cup (1 stick), melted

36 (or so) candied barrel cactus slices

  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 4-by-9-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray or butter, and line it with parchment, leaving some overhang on both of the longer sides so you’re able to easily lift the cake out after baking.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt and turmeric in a large bowl.
  3. Grate 2 tablespoons zest from 2 lemons into a medium bowl. Halve the zested lemons and squeeze 2 tablespoons juice into a small bowl.  You’ll have extra juice, so save the remainder for another use.
  4. Add 1 cup sugar to the lemon zest in the medium bowl; rub together with your fingertips until the sugar is fragrant and tinted yellow. Whisk in the Greek yogurt, beaten eggs and the 2 tablespoons lemon juice until well blended.
  5. Using a spatula, add the wet mixture to the flour mixture, stirring just to blend. Fold in the melted butter. Stir in the barrel cactus seeds. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top. Arrange barrel cactus slices on top if using and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar.
  6. Bake until the top of the cake is golden brown, the edges pull away from the sides of the pan, and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. (If the loaf is getting too dark, lay a piece of foil on top to prevent burning.) Let cool before slicing.

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Want more recipes using wild foods of the Southwest? You’d find ideas for collecting and using 23 easily recognized and gathered desert foods in Cooking the Wild Southwest: Delicious Recipes for Desert Foods. If you are interested in prickly pear, The Prickly Pear Cookbook will teach you how to gather pads and fruits and turn them into tasty treats. Just click on the titles for more information. You can learn more about me on my website.

Categories: Sonoran Native | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Mole Marinated Roast Poultry

Happy November full moon! Amy here today experimenting with roast poultry.

I wanted to make a roast chicken with mole as a seasoning, rather than as a sauce. Something exciting but still traditional enough for a roast chicken or turkey. Also, I couldn’t decide which variety of mole to use. So I separately mixed some Mano Y Metate Adobo and Mole Negro powders with olive oil and rubbed them one on each side of a chicken. I slid some under the skin and in the cavity. I sprinkled a little salt everywhere, too.

I trussed the wings and legs with dental floss.

I let it marinate uncovered in the refrigerator for 36 hours. Supposedly this helps the skin get crisp when baking.

In that time the mole dyed the skin a deep color, but it looked dull. So I moistened it with a little more olive oil and set in a 375 degrees F oven.

As it baked, I basted it a few times with its own drippings.

After it was almost to temperature (160 degrees F) I cranked the oven to 400 to crisp the skin for the last few minutes. Then I removed it from the oven, and while resting ensured the breast temperature climbed over 165F.

The skin was crisp and spicy! The meat was savory, flavorful and complex but less spicy. It was bold and special without feeling wild and crazy, or that the sides needed to work around the mole theme.

As for Mole Negro vs Adobo, I think the extra heat of the Mole Negro was my favorite, but the Adobo made the prettier crust and would be my choice for a serving a crowd.

I considered making mole sauce to spoon on the plate, but instead put some of the drippings into and on top of the mashed potatoes. Delicious!!!!!

The bones and drippings made an incredibly rich colored broth with hints of mole. It was spicier than I thought it would be. I can’t wait to make it into soups, the best part of roasting a bird. Enjoy the weather and happy cooking!

Categories: Cooking, Southwest Food | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Mesquite Popcorn: Two Old Foods Combine for a New Snack

Native people in the Southwest have been growing popcorn and collecting mesquite pods for more than 4,000 years.  Not sure if they ate them together, but we can!

I have a simple, delicious recipe for you today, but first an announcement. It’s Carolyn this week thinking back to 2011 when I began my first food blog shortly after my book “Cooking the Wild Southwest” was published. I wrote the blog myself for a few years under the title “Carolyn’s Southwest Kitchen,” then thought it would be more fun for me and the readers if other authors joined in.  Writers have come and gone but today Tia Marta and Amy Schwemm and I are the regulars. Together we and our former colleagues have published 338 columns on wild greens, other edible wild plants, traditional chile recipes, delicious mole dishes and all manner of delicious Southwestern foods. Those columns will remain in the blogosphere and you can still search them. Recently, we’ve sent you a post every ten days, but knowing that everyone is so busy, we’re dropping back to one post a month. You will hear from each of us four times during the year in regular rotation.

Sprinkling mesquite meal on popped corn is so simple and so delicious I can’t believe I never thought of it before. It came about because I was giving a cooking demonstration to a small group and I knew they would get hungry as they watched me cook their dinner. The demo was in conjunction with my new book A Desert Feast.” It is my answer to why Tucson was named a UNESCO City of Gastronomy.  The answer is complex but one reason is that we are still eating some of the same foods people here have eaten for thousands of years. Throughout the dinner, I wanted to include a range of foods that had been eaten in the over the last 4,000 years in Southern Arizona and popcorn seemed like a good idea for a snack to keep my audience’s hunger at bay for the 45 minutes I’d need to put their complete meal together.  If I could season it with mesquite meal, that would help me tick off one of the earliest foods. It was a hit!  You’ll love it too.

Sprinkle mesquite meal on plain or buttered popcorn for a naturally sweet treat.

Mesquite Popcorn

6 cups popped corn

2-4 tablespoons melted butter (optional)

6 tablespoons fine mesquite meal

Put the popped corn in a bowl large enough to allow mixing. Drizzle on the melted butter if using. Sprinkle on the mesquite meal, tossing until well combined.

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Want more recipes for mesquite and delicious wild foods of the desert? Find them in my book “Cooking the Wild Southwest: Delicious Recipes for Desert Plants.” And if you want to know why Tucson was named a UNESCO City of Gastronomy, I tell the whole 4,000-year story in my newest book “A Desert Feast: Celebrating Tucson’s Culinary History.” Buy them from your local bookstore or order on-line.

Categories: Cooking, Sonoran Native | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mole Nachos

Hello Friends,

Amy here, sharing a classic dish that I’ve made several times recently. Years ago my young niece showed me how she made nachos. I didn’t grow up with them, and had never before gotten into making or eating nachos. Ava’s authoritative recipe in the microwave was such a delight that afternoon. So even if I make my own version now, I always think of her when I do.

I like to start with corn tortillas. Thin ones are best, and if they’re dried out a little, even better.

I fry them in a shallow layer of neutral oil until crispy and brown.

Then sprinkle them generously with salt right after coming out of the oil.

Freshly grated cheese is a must. I like jack, but of course anything that melts is good!

My niece used leftover beans and so did I. These are mayocoba beans cooked with just water, garlic and salt.

For sauce and spice, I made some Pipian Picante with my Mano Y Metate mole powder and the oil left after frying tortillas.

Then I added some leftover carnitas to it!

Since it is chile season, I roasted some from the Tucson CSA over the gas stove inside. After evenly charring, I put them in a lidded dry, cold saucepan, allowing them to steam in their own heat. Then the skins slip off easily.

Tucson CSA has had a good heirloom tomato year, so they go in whatever dish I’m making on the day they are ripe. And I sliced some white onion thinly.

I put the tortillas, cheese and beans to heat in the oven.

A thin layer of tortillas makes for more edges that can get crisp, but a full sheet pan with extra sauce and cheese is good, too! After baking, I top with the pork in Pipian Picante, tomato, onion and green chile. I recommend eating immediately like I did with my niece, enjoying the outdoors.

Categories: Cooking, heirloom beans, heirloom crops, Sonoran Native, Southwest Food, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

What in the world is a cardoon?

Have you ever heard of a cardoon?

I certainly didn’t know what a cardoon was– (a kind of cartoon? dragoon? vinagaroon? baffoon?)— until plant expert Dena Cowan at Mission Garden explained it to me. I had been oooing and ahhing over what I thought was a gorgeous “ARTICHOKE” plant growing in the Mission Period huerta garden plot there. She explained that it was a CARDOON–first cousin of artichoke and differing only slightly. She told me that while artichokes are grown for their delectable flower buds, the cardoon is grown for its edible leaf petioles and giant leaf veins! Tia Marta here to share what I learned–and what YOU can learn at our lovely Mission Garden when you see cardoon in person!

Inquiring further, I learned from an amazing Mission Garden volunteer, Jerome West, that actually the artichoke is a domesticated variety of the wild cardoon (Cynara cardunculus), native to the Mediterranean region and brought to the Southwest by missionaries. He told me that Homer recorded cardoon in ancient gardens in the 8th century BCE and Pliny the Elder mentioned ‘carduus’ growing in Classical Carthage and Cordova. This plant has been feeding people for a long time!

So I took on the challenge of learning to cook cardoon. Each leaf can be enormous, like 12-18″ long or more and widely lobed. The leaf petiole–its attachment to the stem–and the fat vascular tissue that continues through the leaf are the parts that are not only edible but flavorful and nutritious –bigtime.

Some prep is needed before you fix any recipe. Be sure to slice away any tough fibers, the way you might do with mature celery. Then chop and soak in lemon juice. I discovered online some helpful instructions–here is the best I found: https://foodandstyle.com/prepping-and-blanching-cardoons/ .

I fixed a surprise soup with red onions and pine nuts (believe it or not). Here’s another sensational soup recipe for Zuppa di cardi found online: https://memoriediangelina.com/2019/02/23/zuppa-di-cardi-cardoon-soup/ .

As for nutrition, check this: Cardoon is rich in good electrolytes–potassium, magnesium, calcium, plus Vit.B-6.

Cardoon (and artichoke) thrive particularly in our Sonoran Desert winters because they are attuned to the Mediterranean regime of winter rainfall. (Hopefully we shall have a good season of equipatas).

We need to grow more cardoons. Come see Mission Garden’s cardoons which are sporting tall drying flower stalks right now. AND plan to attend the Mission Garden Plant Sale coming up soon on Saturday, September 28, 2021, 8am-12noon. There might be a cardoon for sale or seeds for growing your own. A cardoon in your landscape will provide glorious visual texture and rich gray-greenery in your view-shed –not to mention good food when it is time to trim!

Categories: Sonoran Native | Tags: | 6 Comments

Sonoran Fall Cobbler with Prickly Pear, Apples and Plums and a Mesquite Crust

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Apples and plums combine with prickly pear syrup and a mesquite oatmeal topping for the perfect fall dessert.

Traditional fall fruits like apple and plums are natural go-togethers with prickly pears and mesquite. It’s Carolyn this week bringing you this recipe that is a good way to introduce people to new flavors because it is a recognizable old standard with a new twist. And it doesn’t take a large amount of either the prickly pear syrup or the mesquite to make a statement. I took this to a last of summer potluck recently and it was the first dessert consumed as people bypassed the whipped cream cake and even the chocolate brownies to give it a try. “You didn’t make enough,” is what I heard. 

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Late summer country picnic perfect for Sonoran Fruit Cobbler.

To make the cobbler, you can use any kind of apples, but include at least one tart one, like Granny Smith, to give it a bit of brightness.

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Mix the chopped apple and plums with a little bit of prickly pear syrup.

The mesquite oatmeal topping crisps up because of the butter that you rub into it.

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Sprinkle the top with a mixture of oatmeal, mesquite meal, and butter.

Sonoran Fall Cobbler

4 apples, chopped, no need to peel

4 large plums or pluots, chopped

1/4 cup prickly pear syrup

1/2 teaspoon corn starch

Topping:

1 cup dry oatmeal

1/4 cup mesquite meal

2-4 tablespoons brown sugar

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the chopped apples and peaches in casserole or pie plate or 8×8-inch pan. Stir the cornstarch into the prickly pear syrup and stir into the fruit mixture. In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients for the topping. Chop the butter into little pieces and with your fingers, rub it into the dry ingredients. Spread over the chopped fruit. Bake in preheated oven for about 25 minutes until fruit is tender and topping is nicely browned.

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Sonoran Fruit Cobbler is delicious as is or add cream, whipped cream, or ice cream.

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Want more recipes for mesquite and delicious wild foods of the desert? Find them in my book “Cooking the Wild Southwest: Delicious Recipes for Desert Plants.” And if you want to know why Tucson was named a UNESCO City of Gastronomy, I tell the whole 4,000-year story in my newest book “A Desert Feast: Celebrating Tucson’s Culinary History.” Buy them from your local bookstore or order on-line.

Categories: Sonoran Native | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Hu:ñ Pasti:l — Pastel de Elote — muy saboroso as in yummy!

HU:Ñ PASTI:L aka PASTEL DE ELOTE — A most delectable treat inspired by corn-harvesting time (MABurgess photo)

So in case you are wondering…. Hu:ñ (pronounced HOOONya) is corn and Pasti:l (pronounced pasTEEEEra) is pie in O’odham language. The Spanish Pastel de Elote (passTELL day ay-LOW-tay) essentially means pie made of fresh corn. In English it goes by a more pedestrian name — sweet corn casserole–but it is just as delish.

It’s like a slightly sweet tamale pie or casserole–full of protein—easy to make! Tia Marta here to share a fun fast recipe using our local Native summer corn in its fresh and dried forms….

Heirloom O’odham 60-day corn ripe in the husk ready to harvest at San Xavier Coop Farm

This ancient and honorable 60-days-to-ripen corn was genetically selected long ago by the Desert People, and almost lost in the mid-20th Century due to agricultural “faddism.”  Thanks to a few traditional gardening families and to NativeSeedsSEARCH gardeners and seed-bankers, a handful of kernels were saved and multiplied through that bottleneck of time, so that now seeds are available for many farms to grow this amazing corn.  San Xavier Farm alone now has ACRES producing perhaps TONS of ears to feed a growing population–and a community also growing in appreciation of this amazingly nutritious and desert-adapted grain.  Imagine a protein-packed grain that can handle the heat of the Sonoran Desert summer and can ripen in 60 days!  In food production terms, that’s like zero to sixty in less than 10 seconds!

Mission Garden’s Garden Supervisor Emily Rockey cradles an armload of Tohono O’odham 60-day corn at San Xavier Coop Farm harvested for the community. (MABurgess photo)

A group of us volunteers from Mission Garden recently went to help hand-harvest traditional Tohono O’odham 60-day corn at a community picking in the productive fields of San Xavier Coop Farm. Harvesting this sacred corn together inspired me to prepare a dish to share with dear friends.

The recipe calls for fresh corn cut off the cob, but you can easily substitute canned corn.  Since our household is trying to “go local” as much as possible, I used flour milled from BKWFarms’ organic white Sonora wheat, eggs from the happy chickens at Mission Garden, and local naturally-grown corn and cornmeal. I used a sunny day and a solar oven!

Muff’s Hu:ñ Pasti:l or Pastel de Elote Recipe:

Preheat solar oven or conventional oven to 350F degrees–(solar may be less).

Grease and lightly flour one large (or 2 smaller) baking dish(es) or iron skillet.

Cream together: 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter. and ½ cup agave syrup “nectar” or sugar

Beat in 4 eggs.

Add and mix thoroughly into the moist mixture:

1 cup homemade salsa, OR 1 can Herdez Salsa Casera, OR 1 cup diced green chiles

1 pint fresh corn kernels cut off the cob (ca.3 ears), OR 1 16oz. canned corn (I use organic non-GMO)

1 cup shredded longhorn/cheddar cheese

Sift together, then stir into the corn/cheese mixture:

1 cup white Sonora wheat flour (or other whole grain flour)

1 cup cornmeal (non-GMO)

 4 tsp. baking powder

¼-1/2 tsp. sea salt

Pour mixture into greased and floured baking dish(es).

Reduce heat to 300F and Bake 50+ minutes in conventional or solar oven, or until “pie” tests done with toothpick. (Solar may take longer.)

This recipe serves 8 graciously, piping hot or chilled, for dinner, lunch or snack. Hu:ñ Pasti:l (Pastel de Elote) can be refrigerated for a week-plus, then sliced and re-zapped in microwave for quick easy servings.  Or, it can be sealed and frozen for longer storage.

You can find fabulous local cornmeals roasted or made as pinole (that work great in this recipe) at Ramona Farms online and NativeSeedsSEARCH online store.

White Sonora Wheat flour is available at NativeSeedsSEARCH, San Xavier Coop Farm, BKWFarms, and Barrio Bread. You can come soon to see O’odham 60-day corn in the field at Tucson’s Mission Garden, soon to be harvested. While there you can pick up fresh eggs from their heirloom chickens.

[Also check out a totally different dish of sweet mole cornbread–entirely different personality–made with many of these same maize ingredients by Savor-blog-Sister Amy in an earlier post.]

Enjoy these flavors and nutrition, and rejoice in a local monsoon desert crop!

Categories: Sonoran Native | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

“Tepa-lites!”=Teparies + Quelites=Summer Beans and Greens

Quelites or Bledo in Spanish–Cuhuggia I:wagĭ in O’odham–These nutritious “weeds” of Amaranthus palmeri are springing up all around us after good warm-season rains, ready for harvesting. (MABurgess photo)

At last, summer monsoons have gifted the Sonoran Desert with a veritable explosion of delicious wild greens and a growing gardenful of traditional tepary beans! You don’t have to look far to see patches of what many people call “WEEDS” sprouting up. But you and I know better–and others will too after they taste those yummy greens.

Tia Marta here inviting you to appreciate show-time for many species of greens like Amaranth—”rain spinach”–our wild Amaranthus palmeri, and many varieties long cultivated by traditional farmers of Northwest Mexico and the American Southwest.  You can find seeds and info of locally adapted greens and tepary varieties at NativeSeedsSEARCH for planting your own. Come and see living, flowering examples of several Native varieties of greens and teparies right now at Tucson’s Mission Garden

Hopi Red Dye Amaranth is a quadruple-whammie for garden and kitchen: Its glorious flower makes an ornamental show, its leaves are tasty greens, its seeds are nutritous grain, and then it is used as a safe and pleasing red food dye–used in ceremonial piiki bread. (MABurgess photo)

If you can’t visit Mission Garden in person, you are invited to join us virtually at Mission Garden where will be presenting the “Tepa-lites” (short for teparies and quelites) workshop live next Saturday morning, August 7, 2021, 9-11a.m. (Tucson time) via Zoom or on Facebook Live. This community workshop—free, with no pre-registration necessary—is supported by grant funds through the University of Arizona Desert Lab at Tumamoc Hill.

Now is also show-time for verdulagas, that ground-hugging, tasty, succulent summer “weed” also known as “purslane” (Portulaca oleracea) which can be eaten fresh in salads or steamed as a nutritious veggie.  Learn some great purslane recipe ideas at the zoom workshop. (Note its small elongate succulent leaves.)

A confusing verdulaga look-alike known as “horse purslane”, is a low-growing succulent that can fool you. Some people might find this one palatable, but for others it has a taste of soap or an unpleasantly bitter after-taste. (Note its rounder leaves.)

Don’t let yourself be swayed by derogatory names like “pigweed” and “careless weed.”  (Those terms are shop-talk by the weed-killer salesperson or the yard guy that wants to eradicate your edible landscaping).  Far better to call good weeds by positive names, like “rain spinach” or cuhuggia i:wagĭ (“sleeping spinach” when they wilt),  as they are called by the Tohono O’odham, the Desert People who have eaten them in good health for hundreds of years.  

At the online workshop we will celebrate the nutritional combination of these monsoon greens and traditional teparies.  It’s a way to open eyes and tastebuds to the nutritious foods available right out the front door—Nature’s provender—and to encourage easy planting of the fastest beans known. 

When they are young, tepary plants look like miniature versions of common beans, with a three-some of pointed leaves that fold up to save water when the sun is strong at midday. It is the most arid-adapted bean alive, domesticated from wild teparies by early farmers right here in the desert possibly 6,000 years ago.

OK, admittedly tepary beans aren’t “fast food” per se (they do take a long time to soak and cook), but you can grow them to maturity in about 60 days—and that’s fast for a bean.  THIS WEEK is the last opportunity to get them into the ground for a harvest this fall.  My admired O’odham gardener-friends, Laura Kerman-bad, her brother, and Juanita Ahil-bad, always recommended that teparies (and other traditional summer crops) could be planted successfully through the first week in August.  So make it happen….get busy and dive into planting that little garden plot which is now soaked with Nature’s own irrigation!

Chilpotle red teparies–pasta faggioli Sonoran style with greens–will be introduced at the workshop….

Here is the link to join the Zoom “Tepa-lites” class: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85958074230?pwd=S1htT1JKVXNCN3g4NWhoWGRPdS9UZz09
Meeting ID: 859 5807 4230
Passcode: 2021

Hoping to see you virtually on August 7!

Additional info: For helpful greens identification and surprising recipes for greens and tepary beans, check Tia Marta’s earlier post “Blessed Monsoon Weeds”

also SavorSister Carolyn’s post on Sherman’s tepary recipe

SavorSisterAmy’s post for a fabulous tepary-with-veggie stew

and for more appreciation of ba:wĭ–tepary beans–Tia Marta’s “Tepary Time” post

Categories: Sonoran Native | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

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