Nopales is one of those dishes my Mexican grandma on my dad’s side used to cook. It’s not my favorite dish because it’s slimy, but I figured out how to make it to my liking. Nopales are naturally vegan and make a great side dish with rice and beans. See more recipes below.
Years ago, we went to a vegetarian club and I took raw nopales to the party. One of the raw foodies really appreciated it. So you can make this dish raw which isn’t the usual way, but good. Or you can cook it quickly. As I recall the longer it’s cooked the slimier it gets. Also only make enough for a day. You can get away with eating it the next day, but after that it’s too slimy. So if a paddle (what looks like a leaf) is 12-inches then one paddle is enough for two people in my opinion.
My grandma, who was from a magical town in Jalisco, would go into the hills of Orange, California and cut the paddles herself. She even grew the cactus in her backyard. My dad likes to use tongs and a knife to cut off the paddles. As far as cleaning them you have to cut every thorn off with a knife. Some people cut off the outside of the paddle which is the spine—I don’t do that—I suppose I should. Personally, I just buy cactus paddles at the health food store and hope they cut all the thorns off.
2 cactus paddles, diced
1 onion, small
1 garlic, clove, pressed or minced
1 serrano pepper, minced
sea salt, to taste
1 Tbsp. olive oil, if cooking
Yield: 4 servings
Clean up the paddles by washing them in cold water and then cutting off any thorns or bumps or spines. Run your hand along the paddle to feel for thorns. Once clean, cut in long strips and then cut the other direction to make small squares. Then chop onion, garlic, and serrano pepper. Use gloves to chop the serrano which I do not deseed for this recipe.
For a raw dish, mix all ingredients in a glass bowl and you are good to go. Cilantro is optional here. I mostly used it for the photo.
For a cooked dish, sauté the onions for five minutes in a tablespoon of olive oil, add garlic, serrano pepper, and salt. Then add cactus but only cook it for a minute and a half.
Thank you so much for stopping by. I really appreciate it. I hope you find joy in food and family and friends. Don’t forget to hug and love each other and of course your pets too. Let’s not lose our humanity. Love one another.