Basic Cactus Prep + Recipe


Basic Preparation for Cactus Paddles

Don't fear this plant, it holds some great properties. Here's what you do. 

Try to hold onto the fresh cactus paddles at the base and rinse under water, being careful not to prick yourself. If you have comfortable garden gloves, feel free to use them. 

Lay the paddles on a chopping board or over a paper bag and trim around the edges. Next, using a vegetable or a small knife, peel off the bumps where the thorns grow. Try to keep the green skin intact as much as possible. When you have peeled off all the bumps, you can then cut half an inch off of the base. 

Now, rinse and dice into half an inch to 1 inch sized squares, to you liking. 

Heat the oil in a large-sized skillet over medium-high heat. Add the diced cactus, stir in the salt and stir for a minute or two. Place the lid on the skillet. 

Reduce the heat to medium and let the cactus cook and sweat for about 20 minutes, until it has let out a gelatinous liquid that will begin to dry out. Take the lid off the skillet, stir and make sure most of that jelly substance has dried up. If it hasn't, let the cactus cook for a few more minutes until it does. Let the cactus cool and they are ready to go in a salad, tacos, nachos, whatever you like. 

Nopale Salad

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil, divided

  • 2/3 cup diced onion

  • 1 garlic clove, minced

  • 3 cups diced, precooked nopales

  • 1 medium tomato, diced

  • 1/2 lemon juice, freshly squeezed

  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

  • a dash of fresh or dried oregano

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • 1 tbsp. fresh or pickled jalapeños (optional)

  • crumbling of cotija cheese

Heat one tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium-size frying pan. Add onion and garlic and sauté until the onion begins to soften, being careful not to let the garlic burn. 

Add the cactus and oregano and continue to sauté over medium heat for a few minutes. 

Transfer the vegetables to a bowl. When cool, combine with the tomatoes, cilantro, lemon juice, and the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. 

Cactus Nutritional Benefits

  • Cactus is loaded with vitamins C and E, both protective antioxidants that ward off disease and strengthen immunity. 

  • Cactus also contains lots of fiber, which cleanses the digestive tract adn reduces constipation and even removes fat, so it's great for weight control. 

  • Diabetics benefit from eating cactus because it reduces blood sugar levels.