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 for more lines, but I decided on just: “How to cook Nopales (cactus pads)” . So, hope you find it 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. They were still crispy and that is what matters when you choose the nopales. If they are soft and bendable, do not buy it.
Today I also have the recipe 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 25 years ago. ( Yes, it has been that long, and seems like yesterday, believe me!) Well, anyway. The thought of eating scrambled eggs with nopales for breakfast and in a sandwich didn’t sound to interesting for me then. But here I am trying to convince my teenager son that it tastes good, plus it has the added bonus of all the Health Benefits found in Nopales that even Asian countries are cultivating, while in México they are becoming extinct in some areas.
Now, lets go cook some Nopales.
Ingredients of a Salad for 4 people.
6 Nopales (cactus pads)
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 Olive oil
2 Tbsp. Lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup crumble fresh cheese
Corn tortillas or tostadas to serve.
Use kitchen tongs to hold the nopales (Cactus paddles) or, better yet, wear gloves to protect your hands from the spines. Once you are familiar working with cactus paddles then you will try to clean them without gloves. Place the cactus paddle on your cutting board and using a sharp knife scrape the spines, thorns or eyes, running your knife from back to front until completely clean. Turn the cactus paddles and do the same with the other side. Trim off the edges. 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.
Cut the cactus paddles in small strips. Meanwhile place a medium size pot with 4 quarts of water to boil.
Add 1/2 tsp. of salt to the water. (Some people add a clove of garlic and a small piece of onion, but that is optional.) Once the water is boiling add the cactus and boil for about 15-18 minutes uncover. The cactus will exude a sticky substance and most times will foam. Pay special attention to this step to avoid the foam to spill over.
Once cooked, rinse the cactus paddles and let them drain or pat them dry with paper towels. Now, your nopales are ready to be prepared into salads, scramble eggs, or 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 cleaned the spines, brush with oil and grill about 3 minutes for each side.
For the Cactus paddel –Nopales salad, 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 to the nopales mixture and stir. Top the salad with the crumble fresh cheese and avocado slices. Radishes go well with this salad also. Eat with tostadas.
Nopales with eggs for breakfast
You will need 2 eggs, 2 tbsp. of chopped green onions and 2/3 cups of cooked nopales, 1 tbsp. vegetable oil and salt to taste.
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.
More Recipes using Nopales:
Grilled Cactus Recipe, Nopales smoothie, Cactus Salad with Pomegranate,
Enjoy! Buen Provecho!