It’s Cinco de Mayo, and I don’t have a lot of time to waste! I was in the middle of a lesson plan with my kiddos when I remembered this culinary holiest of holidays! Anytime I get a chance to eat Mexican food, I do! I also do it with extreme vigor, hence, these nachos! Served with my Queso Blanco, these babies will have you dancing in your kitchen! Why do you ask, are they so good?
Because the “jackfruit carnitas” is the star of the show. Not going to lie. I can be found eating it fresh out of the oven while it’s still on the baking sheet! I love this recipe and find that finishing it in the oven is why it goes from good…to out of this world! Even your hardcore meat-eating friends will LOVE these nachos!
Don’t be afraid of the number of ingredients. They are primarily spices. If you don’t want to make the spice mix, you can always grab a pre-made Mexican spice mix at the grocery store. You can also make the carnitas in advance, then slow-warm them in a 350°F oven. Just sprinkle the jackfruit with 2 tbsp of water, and stir well. Add to a prepared baking sheet and warm in the oven for 20 minutes! ¡Ahí lo tienes!
Preheat oven to 425° F. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Drain jackfruit in a colander and use your fingers, and shred jackfruit into pieces. (I generally pick out the seed pods and toss them). Set aside.
Heat a medium skillet (I use cast-iron) over medium heat. When the pan is warmed, add oil. Add onion and cook until softened, translucent, and lightly caramelized, about 7-8 minutes. Add sliced garlic and cook until soft and fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.
Add spices. Mix well and sauté for 30 seconds to a minute.
Add tomato paste and stir well.
Add prepared jackfruit and soy sauce, maple syrup, liquid smoke, citrus juices, and cider vinegar. Stir well—season with salt and pepper. Simmer the mixture gently for another 10-15 minutes. Carefully remove from pan and add to prepared baking sheet. Add to the oven, and slow roast jackfruit for 20 minutes, or until edges begin to crisp and brown. While the jackfruit is in the oven, prep your toppings.
Chop avocados, green onions, and tomatoes. Shred the lettuce.
Remove jackfruit from the oven and immediately season jackfruit with fresh lime juice, 1/2 tsp smoked paprika, salt, and pepper. (Mix spices together in a small bowl and sprinkle over the top).
Assemble nachos, add your favorite ingredients, and enjoy!
I’ve always been fascinated with Cuba. Perhaps it remains a romantically forbidden destination, or maybe because Hemingway wrote two of my favorite novels there. Or, perhaps it’s the food. Enter the Ropa Vieja.
Considered Cuba’s national dish, its name translates to ‘old clothes,’ and the story goes that a destitute old man once shredded and cooked his clothes because he could not afford food for his family. He prayed over the bubbling concoction, and a miracle occurred, turning the mixture into a tasty, rich meat stew. Generally made with flank steak, this vegan version uses the ever-versatile Jackfruit. For our Ropa Vieja recipe, we’re adding other classic Cuban and Spanish ingredients, such as olives and pimentos.
Ropa Vieja only tastes better the next day as the flavors have more time to meld, so this is a perfect dish to make in large batches for leftovers! I like to serve it over Cuban black beans and cilantro rice. If you can find them, fried plantains called Maduro’s also make an excellent accompaniment!
Place a rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 250°.
Drain jackfruit and dry with a towel.
Mix bouillon cube with 1/2 cup of hot water.
Heat oil in a large heatproof pot over high.
Cook jackfruit, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, 5–7 minutes. Add bouillon mixture to pan and scrape and bits of jackfruit stuck to the bottom of a pan. Stir in 2 tablespoons of tomato paste. Mix well. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a mixing bowl.
In the same pan add remaining tablespoon of oil and cook onion, bell peppers. Add salt, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown, 12–14 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently and scraping bottom of pan, until vegetables are golden brown, 3–5 minutes.
Stir in wine and cook, stirring occasionally, until evaporated.
Stir in paprika, oregano, cumin, black pepper, and cayenne until vegetables are coated; continue to cook, stirring, until spices are fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add tomatoes and coarsely break up with a spoon (they’ll continue to break down as they cook). Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
Add jackfruit back into vegetable mixture with bay leaf.
Cover and transfer to oven. Braise until jackfruit and vegetables are very tender about 30 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes.
Discard bay leaves. Using a potato masher or 2 forks, tear and smash jackfruit into sauce until it’s shredded and incorporated into sauce.