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How to cook Cactus Paddles “Nopales”/Cómo Cocinar Nopales.

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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.

SERVES 4

NOPALES SALAD INGREDIENTS


  • 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 avocado
  • 1/2 cup crumble fresh cheese
  • Corn tortillas or tostadas to serve.

DIRECTIONS: 


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1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

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4. Cut the cactus paddles in small strips. Meanwhile place a medium size pot with 4 quarts of water to boil.

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5. 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.

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6. 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.

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7. 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


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INGREDIENTS:


  •  2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp. of chopped green onions
  •  2/3 cups of cooked nopales
  •  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.

More Recipes using Nopales:

Grilled Cactus Recipe, Nopales smoothie, Cactus Salad with Pomegranate, 

Enjoy! Buen Provecho!



55 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. :)

      Delete
    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
  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!

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  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!

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  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!

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  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

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  15. what a salad

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

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

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  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

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