Eating Cactus and Liking It
Marty Martindale

When they eat it, they call it nopales. Just as we now safely eat fish which has had tiny bones, the Mexican people have demonstrated we can eat cactus without its prickly needles.

Pleasantly tart, they taste a bit like green beans or asparagus. Sometimes called “cactus paddles” or “prickly pear cactus,” they are fleshy pads about the size of one’s hand. Like so many original Mexican crops, fresh nopales are now available on a limited basis in U.S. supermarkets, also in cans or jars. Nopales are a natural on the grill and an interesting accent with grilled steaks.

Nopales are rich in dietary fiber. They are also rich in vitamins vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin K.

Choose small or medium sized, firm pads, ones not wrinkled or mushy. A healthy color runs from pale to dark green.

Cactus pad preparation could be intimidating were it not for the folks at Rivenrock Gardens, California Certified Organic Farmers (edible cactus artisan growers)  since 1993. Take a look at their Nopale Preparation video.

Nopales give off a sticky substance similar to okra which releases during cooking. This can be rinsed off before serving or before further preparation as an ingredient.

USES: after cleaning, nopales may be cooked by either boiling or grilling.

Soups and stews
Egg dishes
Grilled as vegetable
Goes well with:  onion, garlic, poblano peppers, add lime juice, cumin and cilantro.

Check the Rivenrock Gardens site for nopales recipes.

Marty Martindale

About Marty Martindale

Foodsite Magazine and Marty aim to help the cooking-challenged avoid dependence on others due to lack of cooking knowhow. We concentrate on quick breakfasts, portable lunches and “good-4-u” night meals. With readily available web translation, the magazine explains separate foods, a little of their history, their nutrition, suggested “go-withs,” serving ideas and links to foodsites with recipes.

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