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Nopal ideas?

I recently got turned on to the seemingly great health benefits of Nopal, or Prickly Pear Cactus. Seems like it's a very healthy thing to consume. While I'm sure many do not have access to this, I happen to live near a Mexican market, where it is cheap. I've only been consuming it for four days and have only juiced it with carrots and celery. The cactus juice is very thick and slimey, think aloe vera gel, but it tastes ok. Anyone else cook with this? Good recipes? Thoughts?

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  1. I think nopales are best julienne-sliced and quickly pan-fried in a little bit of oil, like you would bell peppers. They're good this way mixed with carmalized onions, chiles, potatoes, scrambled eggs, and/or skirt steak (arracheras). A local favorite Mexican joint serves tacos de bistek con nopales, which is basically seasoned, chopped skirt steak and stips of nopales, cooked as described above. It's a great combination!

    1. I take the cubed nopales and boil them for an hour to help get rid of the slim. Then I saute them in olive oil, with chili flakes, chopped garlic, onion, and a splash of vinegar. Or I'll saute the boiled nopales with soyriso and add some cumin, chili powder, and a splash of vinegar. You can eat them like that or mix it with scrambled eggs, refried beans, or fried potatoes for breakfast burrito,.

      If you do a search you will also find recipes for nopal salad. I've haven't made it but it sounds good.

      1. If you like chile, here's an interesting chile verde recipe: http://tinyurl.com/22v9w7 I've had the shortcut on file for a while but haven't actually gotten around to making it.

        At my market, I can buy nopales cleaned and diced or in whole paddles (presumably with stickers removed!). Being lazy, I go for the diced.

        1. Here in Mexico, nopales are often served as a side vegetable, and sliced in a salad. Yesterday, we went out to lunch at a little neighborhood restaurant, and their lunch special was spaghetti (kind of a creamy tomato sauce) with nopales. We didn't order it, but it looked good. I think alot of people must eat them, because they are for sale in large quantity in the grocery stores.

          1. My mom would brown pieces of pork. She would then add the boiled nopales and a can of Herdez Salsa Casera. She would also add more liquid if needed and then let it all cook together.

            Note: Herdez Salsa Casera is just onion, chili, garlic, tomato, and cilantro. Which you could add instead.

            1. I've never dealt with the raw paddles but I like to make salad with the jarred ones. Nopales, diced up with onions, tomatoes, fresh cilantro, serrano pepper, and lime juice.

              1. Nopales con huevo.. But you must cook the nopales. Boil nopales with a garlic clove and onion. Salt to taste. Careful not to over cook. Drain.
                I put a little oil or Pam in a pan. Toss around the nopales until they are warm then add the beaten eggs. Stir around eat with Tapatillo salsa.

                1 Reply
                1. re: kanosis

                  When you say "careful not to over cook" , what are you looking for? Are they supposed to be crunchy or soft? Is there any other vegetable with equivalent texture?

                2. Nopales with a chile sauce and pork chops. Again, make sure the nopales are cooked. Once the pork chops are ready add your favorite red sauce and 3 inch strips of cooked nopales. Yum.

                  1. Lucky you! I like fresh nopalitos cubed in a salad with lime juice vinagrette, corn, tomato

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: pitu

                      Yummy, I''ll add corn next time

                      1. Nopales can be delicious or terrible. I am sure that for the best health benefits it's probably best to eat them raw in a shake or something, but I am certain that is not really the tastiest way.

                        Nopal goo is nasty stuff, so it's best to get rid of it. Boiling is probably a good method, but I don't like how it zaps away all of the color from them, and I've never been a fan of boiled veggies... I'd have to echo the recommendations from this recipe: http://www.easymexicanfood.com/perfec...
                        I've gotten the best result from frying them raw until they're tender and goo-free, shallots and roasted garlic thrown in during cooking give them a wonderful flavor too.

                        Once they are cooked you can keep them to snack on or use them on other dishes, you can put them in an omelette, stir fry them with steak strips, make a nopal salad, they have a very very versatile flavor I think.

                        Hope you enjoy your nopales !

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: sakelover75

                          I am wondering if the "terrible" nopales came from old pads. Nopales should be picked young without the thorns getting too hard. I don't think I've ever seen family recipes "frying" nopales...I've grilled them, but frying? Do you fry them like a fried chicken or just a lil' oil? Thanks for sharing.

                        2. Boiling doesn't make the goo go away... it makes it worse. Steaming produces less goo... if you boil... add tomatillo peels. Roasting, Grilling or Griddling at high heat is the best way to get rid of goo... but boiling or steaming is usually preferable if you are going to make a salad... just chill afterwords in a colander... the small amount of goo gives the salad an unctous texture overall.

                          Some classic Nopales preparations...

                          > Juice... its partner in crime is usually fresh pineapple
                          > Pre-cooked, cubed sauteed with any of the following chorizo, potatoes, eggs, bacon, chiles, onions, garlic, chipotles en adobo
                          > Nopales-Fava Soup with Mint
                          > In Mole
                          > Griddled with Melted Cheese & Sauced
                          > In Molcajetes

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Eat_Nopal

                            The goo goes away when I boil the ones I get in the Houston markets. Now the ones my mother grows aren't as gooey so she just saute's over high heat (as mentioned) until the goo is gone.

                            Mom will also marinade the cooked ones in the left over pickle juice with onions, carrot slices, and a chili or two. These are great as a snack.

                            1. re: tlegray

                              Thanks... Pickled are also traditional, I forgot about that prep.

                          2. I brush mine with oil and broil. Less slimey that way. Susanna Trilling has a great nopales salad in her Oaxacan cookbook: nopales, tomatoes, avocado, white onion, lime, cilantro, Mexican fresh cheese, and a dressing that includes star anise.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: PAO

                              When cleaning and cooking the Nopal- Do you peel the skin too?

                              1. re: Gina123

                                No, you do not skin them. Just remove the needles, fine stickers and trim as needed. You do not need to peel them.

                            2. I also love nopalitos in eggs as well as salad. Just boil them and allow to cool. Chop up other salad veggies very small and dress with a vinegar and oil dressing. Top with a feta type cheese.

                              1. Nopalitos are so so good, mom used to fix them in chile colorado (red) along with pinto beans and a tortilla. Oh my, but you need to use new pencas as they are tender, cut in the morning or early evening.

                                I am just saying as this is what she does.

                                1. Partially broil the nopales, cut into strips, fry it the rest of the way with scrambled eggs, and put into breakfast quesadillas. Or serve the paddles whole, topped with rice, beans, and queso fresco.