Thursday, June 25, 2009

How to Cook Cactus Paddles (Nopales) / Cómo Cocinar Nopales

                                                                    EN ESPAÑOL
Nopales salad recipe
                                                                  

I wasn’t sure how to name this post… many ideas came to mind, like: “How to make nopales salad”, “What to do with cactus pads”, “Some recipes using nopales”, etc., and the list could go on a few more lines, but I decided on just: “How to cook cactus paddles (nopales)” and I hope you find them easy to prepare.


The weather is getting warmer here and instead of the same old lettuce, tomato, etc., salad, I decided to make a nutritious ensalada de nopales. We do not get the freshest nopales around here but, who’s complaining? You can see in the pictures that they look close to their expiration date, with dark spots here and there, but they were still crispy and that is what matters when you choose the nopales. (If they are soft and bendable, do not buy them).
IMG_1168
Today I also have the recipes for Nopales Salad and Nopales with Eggs. Nopales with eggs!!?? What?? Am I out of my mind?? Well, that is exactly what I told my husband as a newly wed almost 30 years ago. (Yes, it has been that long but seems like yesterday… believe me!) Anyway... The thought of eating scrambled eggs with nopales for breakfast and in a sandwich didn’t sound too interesting for me back then. But here I am now trying to convince my teenage son that they taste good… plus the added bonus of all the health benefits found in nopales that even Asian countries are cultivating them, while in México they are becoming extinct in some areas.

Now… Let’s go cook some nopales!!

cactus paddles nopales recipes

HOW TO COOK NOPALES

INGREDIENTS:




  • 6 nopales (cactus pads)


  • 1 tomatillo husk (to reduce the viscosity effect)
  • 1/4 white onion
  • 1 garlic clove


  • 1/2 tsp. of salt 

  • DIRECTIONS:
    how to cook cactus paddles Nopales
    VERY IMPORTANT TIP: Use kitchen tongs to hold the nopales or, better yet, wear gloves to protect your hands from the thorns. Once you are familiar working with cactus paddles then you can try to clean them without gloves.

    1. Place the cactus paddle on your cutting board and, using a sharp knife, trim off the edge. Scrape the spines, thorns or eyes, running your knife from back to front until completely clean. Turn the cactus paddles and do the same on the other side.

    2.  Repeat the same steps with the rest of the cactus paddles. Finally rinse the cactus paddles and take them back to your clean cutting board.


    nopales cactus recipes

    3. Place a medium size pot with 4 quarts of water to boil.

    4. Cut the cactus paddles in small strips. 

    5.  Once the water is boiling add the cactus, onion, garlic, 1/2 tsp. of salt and the tomatillo husk. Boil uncovered for about 8-10 minutes or until tender. The cactus will exude a sticky substance and most times will foam, so, pay special attention to this step to avoid the foam to spill over.

    6. Once cooked, drain and rinse the cactus. Let them drain completely or pat them dry with paper towels. Now, your nopales are ready to be prepared into salads, scrambled eggs, as an addition to your Mexican stews, etc.

    Note: Nopales also taste good grilled and topped with melted cheese. Just make 3-4 small cuts to each nopal after you cleaned the spines; brush them with oil and grill them for about 3 minutes on each side.

    NOPALES SALAD

    noplaes recipes

    SERVES 4  

    • 6 nopales (cactus pads) chopped and cooked
    • 1 1/2 cup chopped tomato
    • 2 serrano peppers finely chopped
    • 1/2 cup of chopped onion
    • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro chopped
    • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
    • 1/3 cup of olive oil
    • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • 1 avocado
    • 1/2 cup crumble fresh cheese
    • Corn tortillas or tostadas to serve

    DIRECTIONS:

    Place the nopales in a large bowl; add the chopped tomato, onion, serrano peppers and cilantro. Mix the ingredients. In a separate bowl mix lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper. Add this to the nopales mixture and stir. Top the salad with crumbled fresh cheese and avocado slices. (Radishes go well with this salad also). Eat with corn tortillas or tostadas.

     NOPALES WITH EGGS FOR BREAKFAST


    nopales recipes nopales con huevo
    nopales con huevonopalescon huevo

    INGREDIENTS:
    • 2/3 cups of nopales chopped and cooked
    • 2 eggs
    • 2 tbsp. of chopped green onions
    • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil 
    • Salt to taste


    DIRECTIONS:

    Add the oil to a frying pan over medium heat. Add the chopped green onions and stir fry for a minute. Add the nopales and cook for 1 – 2 minutes. Add the eggs and cook until tender, stirring as needed. Add salt to taste.







  • 61 comments:

    1. i love salads and ensaladas. they are both healthy. thanks for sharing this.

      ReplyDelete
    2. Very cool...I always wondered how to make cactus.
      I love your site. My husband loves Mexican. I have tried Tamales, Carna Asada and I will be back to your site.
      Do you make Tamales? Is it really a breakfast food?

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. Tamales are an any time food, but especially breakfast! They are best reheated on a griddle the morning after and served with eggs over easy. :)

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      2. Tamales are an any time food, but specially delicious as a breakfast food. re heat in the morning on a hot griddle and serve with eggs over easy... :)

        Delete
    3. This is new for me, never had cactus. Wonder what it tastes like!

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. In my opinion the taste is similar to that of a green bean.

        Delete
      2. To me nopales taste a bit like dill pickles. :-)

        Delete
    4. Hi Rossel,

      I also love salads, specially this time of year. I can live on salads alone during summer. I hope you try this recipe.

      Pigpigscorner, The nopales sort of taste like green beans/sparragus. In my country a lot of people use them as a medicinal aid, sometimes blending it in a fruit smoothie. I know it sounds odd.

      ReplyDelete
    5. Hi Miranda,
      And yes, I do make tamales all kinds of them, the spice ones and sweet ones. And yes too, to having them for breakfast, but also lunch and dinner. Tamales are sold in the strees of Mexico City inside a french bread for breakfast sometimes outside the metro stations or close to the bus terminal.

      Glad to see you stopping by.

      ReplyDelete
    6. I've never seen cactus being made into a dish but this looks great!

      ReplyDelete
    7. This is sooo interesting and so cool. This is probably just normal to you but I didn't know cactus pads can be made into salads and sandwich. I would want to try that!

      ReplyDelete
    8. For salads you could also try curing them in rock salt for a couple of minutes and then rinsing them in cold water instead of boiling them in water; a technique used in Nayarit, Mexico. They will be super crunchy, and you'll avoid the okra-like sticky substance....also, the color remains bright green. Great pictures, thank you!

      ReplyDelete
    9. wow, what a great lesson on nopales! I've seen this around in markets, but never knew what to do with them. This is awesome, and a rather "tame" and "introductory" way to enjoy nopales.
      It looks like it might taste a bit like...pickles?

      ReplyDelete
    10. Hello Jessie & peachkins glad you can get to see here how we cook them. Maybe you could try them sometime.

      Hi Fiamma Culinaria,
      That is a great way to eat nopales, thanks for the input. My favorite way to eat nopales is grilled toped with melted cheese. Thank you for stopping by.

      Hey!
      Burpandslurp,
      Pickles? Well.... a litlle not so sour. Thanks for your visit.

      ReplyDelete
    11. I am *so* excited to find this blog! I love to cook Mexican food {and EAT Mexican food} but don't know how to do so authentically! I'm excited to take your journey with you and learn some new things, this is so great.

      ReplyDelete
    12. We have those kinds of cactus here in Turkey, but never thought of making salad from its pads. Noone makes it here. So interesting... We generally eat its fruit, orange in color, which has lots of benefits for health. Seeing these pictures and reading your post, I think I'll be the first to try this salad here. You made me so curious about it.

      ReplyDelete
    13. Hi! Hot garlic thank you for joining me to cook some traditional mexican food.
      Hello! Easy Caribean shop glad you like it, thanks for you visit.

      Hi there Zerrin,
      i didn't know you had those in Turkey, what a surprise. we also eat the fruit and make different desserts with it.I hope you try them.

      ReplyDelete
    14. Ive been really enjoying your blog, re. the gazpacho recipe yes its 1 TB, Im always in a rush when posting..The weather has been so warn my family are already requesting a 2nd batch..Figtreeapps

      ReplyDelete
    15. what a salad

      http://chowandchatter.blogspot.com/2009/07/ikea-fun-and-picture-from-chic-eats.html

      ReplyDelete
    16. this is grate im glad, and im also satisfide with the ''ensalada de noplales''....glad to say
      Marlene

      ReplyDelete
    17. ricas recetas como para chuparse los dedos!
      delicious recipies so good you can leak your fingers!

      ReplyDelete
    18. Thanks a lot for your nice comment Anonymous.
      Gracias por tu amable comentario anonimo, espero te gusten todas las recetas.

      Thanks Marlene:

      Please do come back and visit.

      ReplyDelete
    19. Wonderful! I found your blog today searching for how to cook nopales. We're doing a southwestern ragu and are tucking in chopped nopales. Nice blog!

      ReplyDelete
    20. yo dawg. made this today. omg delish

      well i modded your recipe. delish. not so much of a fan of cactus+egg burritos but the salad was wonderful! thank you for the pictures and instructions. glad i was able to cook with them.

      ReplyDelete
    21. Hello Anonymous,

      Thank you for stopping by and letting me know about your experience cooking with nopales.

      Have a great Day!

      ReplyDelete
    22. This looks like a great recipe, but I must say.... those nopales before cooking are such a beautiful, vibrant green color... after cooking they just look dead. In your opinion, is it necessary to boil the nopales for that long?

      ReplyDelete
    23. Hello Anonymous,

      Cooking time varies depending on the thickness and freshness of the Nopales. But if you have tender young Nopales, 10 minutes will be enough.

      Just cook the Nopales until they are tender but still firm.

      Thanks you for valuable question.

      Mely

      ReplyDelete
    24. I just cleaned and cooked some nopales day before yesterday. I love them. Great post. I post about them all the time. Your pictures are awesome.

      ReplyDelete
    25. gracias por tu recetas.

      ReplyDelete
    26. Can you freeze nopales (or nopalitos) for later use? If so, is it best to freeze them cooked or raw? Thank you. And thanks for posting these recipes - they look great!

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. Hello Anonymous,

        Some recipes call for raw nopales and they come out just fine. If you read the comments bellow a reader was kind enough to share her freezing method.

        Enjoy!

        Delete
    27. Thanks so much. I bought some at a flea market and the lady there told me what they were. I thought they were cut bell pepper. I didn't ask how to cook them, but, I stir fried them with onion and they were terrific. I went back yesterday and she said..'oh no, you should boil first'. Well, I didn't get sick, so it worked ok with the stir fry. I love to try new foods.

      ReplyDelete
    28. i love nopalitos con huevo always have an a everyday dish in my ranch!

      ReplyDelete
    29. Thank you for the recipe. I recently went to a farmers market, and kept seeing cactus everywhere. Finally asked about it, and everyone said to have it with eggs. My 20 yr old son, and 18 yr old daughter made it for me today for mothers day following your recipe. Thank you sooooooo much! I was scared, but it was yummy!!

      ReplyDelete
    30. Hello Anonymous,

      WHat a blessing for your to have your kids cooking on Mother's Day.
      I am glad the recipe was helpful to you.

      Happy Belated Mother's Day!

      Mely

      ReplyDelete
    31. My Mother use to make Nopales with eggs when we were children but I never saw her make it. Now, I know. Thanks so much.

      ReplyDelete
    32. I just made this today with some carne asada tacos.....it came out amazing. Thank you for sharing :)

      ReplyDelete
    33. Hello Curly Girl,

      Thanks to you for letting me know that you enjoyed the recipes.

      Mely

      ReplyDelete
    34. I love your recipes, they are straight forward & come out so good! I'm going to make the nopales with eggs for breakfast today, & I think I'll throw in some "soy"rizo for added flavor. Keep up the good work, I have bookmarked your page as my "go to" site for Mexican recipes!

      ReplyDelete
    35. I have bookmarked your site! Your recipes are straight forward & come out tasting great. I am going to try the nopales & eggs for the first time today, maybe add some "soy"rizo to the mix. I love the nopales salad, the radishes are an excellent addition to it. I like to mix diced avocado into it; I accidentally mixed some guacamole into a friend's nopalitos & like the result! Your website is my "go to" for Mexican recipes. Next best thing to actually having a Mexican grandmother!! Thanks so much.

      ReplyDelete
    36. Thanks for your nice comment Oleg.
      I will try adding the guacamole to my nopales ensalada tacos next time I make it. sound like a good addition.

      Happy cooking!

      Mely

      ReplyDelete
    37. I freeze nopales two ways, one is boiled for 5 min. Put salt, When they change color that's it, drain, cover with a cover and let drain all the juice,put in food bags and freeze. Second way: once cleaned with out cutting them, cook them on a comal or in a frying pan no oil, the natural juice will cook them, when they change color, try to dry them with the heat a bit and the let them cool, wrap individually between plastic wrap or freezer bags roll about ten together at a time they fit well in the freezer. Later defrost in microwave and use them with tortilla and melted cheese, salcita. Fast and delicious at anytime during the day, I usually have them for breakfast.

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. Thanks Catherine for explaining you freezing method. I know it will be very helpful.

        Happy cooking,

        Mely

        Delete
    38. two ways to freeze nopales, chopped & boiled five minutes and let drain, put in freezer bags.
      second way is to toast the nopal on a comal or in a frying pan, no oil, their juice will cook them, let them cool and wrap with plastic between each nopal, put ten together, later defrost in Microwave and put them in a tortilla with melted cheese and salcita, great and fast at any hour, I especially like them for breakfast.

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. Hello Catherine,
        Nopales asados con queso derretido is my easy lunch anytime. :)

        Happy week!

        Mely

        Delete
    39. You are great! Back in Mexico, we always cooked first. Love them with eggs. Something I havent had in a long time is fish with nopales and epazote.

      ReplyDelete
    40. Thanks for the instruction on the nopales, will try to cook them, It looks good:>

      ReplyDelete
    41. Thanks for the instructions on nopales, will try to cook nopales:>

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. Hello Elim,

        I hope you enjoy them.

        Mely

        Delete
    42. Here in Texas you see then bottled in the Mexican markets, are these any good to use to save on cooking time?

      ReplyDelete
    43. My Grandmother use to make Nopales with eggs and fresh flour tortillas, yum yum. At the Mexican markets here in Texas the sell jarred Nopales, are they any good? They would save alot of time.

      Very nice blog for authentic Mexican cooking!

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. Hello Dr. Moon,

        Yes, you sure can use the jarred nopales.

        Happy cooking!

        Mely

        Delete
    44. Thanks for the simple tutorial on the nopales. I shared to google+

      ReplyDelete
    45. Mely qué riqueza de ensalada, se antoja con este calor de la canícula! Oye Mely yo no hiervo tanto tiempo los nopales, solo que den un pequeño hervor, que cambien de color y listo.

      ReplyDelete
    46. Not just delicious but also a healthy food. Thanks for sharing the recipe and the tips.

      ReplyDelete
    47. Here trying to build up the courage to de-spine cactus for cactus and eggs. ^^ I plan to stuff them with cheese and bread and deep fry them, then serve them on rice and a fried egg on top. I have a spine in my finger from picking one up earlier thinking I had got them out. Seriously afraid to end up with one stuck in my mouth. I will make this happen though! Thanks for the encouragement!

      ReplyDelete
    48. Hi How long do the nopales cook in boiling water would you say about? Or should I say how do you know once they are ready?

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. Hello,

        Once the water starts boiling reduce heat and leave for about 5 to 7 minutes. Some people cook them longer up to 10 minutes, but I like my to still look plump.

        Happy cooking!

        Delete
    49. Just came across your website when looking for different recipe ideas. I always make nopal cactus with eggs for breakfast but the kids have gotten tired of it last night I tried your salad recipe and it was excellent. This week I am going to try it cooked with a mild chile salsa with some tortillas and refried beans to change things up.

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. Hello Elba,

        Nopales can be cooked in many different ways. There are several recipes using nopales on the blog. Check the search box on the top right side and write Nopales. Enjoy!

        Delete

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