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It’s hard to say how it happens; it just does.
Sometimes foods and their ingredients just seem to get stuck in a rut. Meaning, you only think of them as used in a certain way–just in one dish, for one purpose, or only served hot, for example.
Crepes, for instance, are generally considered a breakfast dish or a dessert served with butter, syrup, fresh fruit, whipped cream or other garnishes. Maybe they’re even flambéed if you’re ambitious. A few might know them as an entrée wrap for savory meats, poultry or seafood, which is served with an accompanying sauce. But very few would think of crepes as a julienned noodle in soups, deep fried as delicious dipping chips or as a pasta substitute in sauces.
Tortillas have this same identity crisis, and it’s ironic that they are nearly the same size and shape as similar flat breads in other countries like Russia (blini), Italy (crispelle), China (Mandarin pancakes), and India (dosa).
This Mexican and Central American everyday bread has a history every bit as deep as the others, though they’re made with slightly different ingredients and methods (mostly finely ground corn (maize) or flour).
How popular are tortillas?
The American Institute of Baking released a Tortilla Statistics and Trends report in June of 2011, which cited a Packaged Facts article that estimated that the world’s Hispanic population accounted for over $1 trillion dollars in tortilla sales in 2010.
That’s trillion…with a “T.”
Yet ask anyone what you make with tortillas, and you’ll probably hear that corn tortillas are for chips and tacos and flour tortillas are for burritos, enchiladas and also for tacos.
Those are all correct answers.
But there’s so much more.
I’ll start with flour tortillas and follow up with a similar blog very soon about Nino’s NEW Corn Tortilla Chips and some great dishes you can make with them as well.
The “Shell” Game…it’s all in the mind.
If you can imagine flour tortillas not as an “ethnic” staple, not as a shell for ground beef and lettuce…
If you can free your mind from its stereotype as this big, flat, edible “floppy disk” of flour and water…
If you can do both of those things, you can then begin to imagine other possibilities.
Try to imagine cutting them into fettuccine-like strips, tossing them in Italian vinaigrette with tomatoes, olives, roasted garlic, fresh baby spinach and maybe some slivers of smoked Gouda cheese. It’s almost like a pasta salad.
And flour tortillas make excellent deep-fried chips. Or you can lay them out on a cutting board, spray them with vegetable oil, sprinkle them with any seasoning and bake them.
How ‘bout a pizza? But not just any pizza… Can you imagine one topped with Nino’s Fresh Tomato Bruschetta Topping, sautéed Portobello mushrooms and freshly shaved Parmesan cheese, baked and drizzled with sweet Balsamic Crème?
Like quesadillas but want to try something really different?
To give ourselves some creative “latitude,” we’re going have to change our longitude.
Let’s say to…41° 54’ N, 12° 27’ E , which is Rome, Italy!
- Sandwich two 6” flour tortillas with 2 tbsp. Nino’s Market Café Pizza Sauce, ½ cup of Nino’s Gourmet to Go Italian Sausage & Peppers Medley, finely julienned fresh basil and slices of FRESH mozzarella cheese. Pan-fry in olive oil on both sides until golden brown, cut into wedges and serve.
How about 47° 55’ N, 106° 53’ E, Mongolia China, the home of Nino’s Mongolian Pork Tenderloin?
- You can slice it finely and place it on a 6” flour tortilla on which you have spread 2 tbsp. Hoisin Sauce on each side. Top that with finely julienned Asian vegetables and crumbed goat cheese.
- This time, pan-fry in a 50/50 sesame seed/peanut oil until golden brown on both sides.
Speaking of home, for my last idea we’ll bring you back home to 35º 46′ N, 78º 38′ W, Raleigh, North Carolina for some Southern BBQ.
- For that, all you’ll need is 2 – 6” flour tortillas sandwiched with ½ cup of Nino’s Homemade Pulled BBQ Pork and a divided ¼ cup of smoked cheddar cheese. Pan-fry on both sides in a small amount of canola oil and top with a drizzle of barbecue sauce. You’re good to go!
Longitude aside, as the song goes, “Changes in Latitudes” can indeed change your “attitude” about many ingredients that never realize their full potential in most recipes.
The next time you stop into Nino’s, pick up a package of flour tortillas. Then, close your eyes and just imagine the possibilities.