This is an elegant side dish or appetizer that you can serve as part of a Mexican menu for lunch or dinner. Nopal, or cactus, is a very common ingredient in Mexican cooking, and is quite versatile. Here we use nopal as part of a "souffle" with cheese, cream, and eggs. The souffle is baked in a puff pastry crust. The nopal can be substituted for other vegetables, such as zucchini and carrots, if you do not have nopal.
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14 small nopals (or 8 medium), rinsed and dried
1 small handful of small onions, or 1/4 medium yellow onion
1-1/2 cups heavy cream
125g mixed gruyere and manchego cheese
200 grams (1/2 lb) puff pastry
Salt, Pepper, Nutmeg
1/4 tsp. prepared mustard
9-inch cake mold
Red Pepper Sauce:
1 small can roasted red peppers
1/4 cup heavy cream
Reserved bacon (from above)
Render the bacon until crispy and reserve the bacon and fat separately.
Slice the baby onions very fine and fry in the reserved bacon fat.
Roll out the puff pastry until very thin and carefully place in the mold.
Finely dice the nopal and place in a large sauté pan over medium high heat, stirring constantly. The nopals will release their drool and cook through, be patient.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, seasonings, and mustard until thoroughly combined. Add the cooked nopals, onions, and cheeses and stir. Pour into the mold over the puff pastry and bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour. You can make this ahead of time and reheat for serving.
For the Red Pepper Cream Sauce:
Blend the peppers. Mix with the cream and a drop of milk. Drain and stir in the bacon bits. Pour the sauce over the soufflé and decorate with a flower made of nopals and a tomato in the center.
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