Cactus pads are so abundant and a staple of Mexican cuisine, I love them! Locally known as Nopales or Nopalitos, they’re on every restaurant menu in Mexico and in everyone’s kitchen, from morning until night!
Roasted as whole pads or chopped into strips, and pan-seared, they are incredibly healthy- full of calcium (lots of it!), antioxidants and fiber. The juice is an anti-inflammatory cocktail which helps to relieve pain.
If you don’t want the slime (which happens to be nutrient-rich), you can boil the nopalitos strips prior to cooking them. But you’ll also lose some nutrients along the way!
The pads are typically harvested small (less than 10cm in height) or medium (less than 20cm in height). Remove the thorns and “eyes” and you are good to go. Eat them as a side or inside your tacos- either way, they’re delish!
The below recipe includes the slime (think okra), because that’s where the good stuff is and I want you to eat the good stuff! 😀
Nopalitos with Tomatoes & Onions
- Nopalitos, strips, thorns removed
- Tomatoes, diced
- Onions, diced
- Garlic, finely chopped
- Coconut or olive oil
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Jalapeno or Scotch bonnet pepper, finely chopped
- Drizzle some oil into a large pan. Add the onions & garlic and cook until transluscent.
- Add the nopalitos & chopped pepper, stir, and lower the heat to medium. Cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes. Add some water if necessary.
- Lastly add the tomatoes, salt & pepper and cook for another 8 minutes. Taste as you go! When you’re ready to eat, don’t forget to squeeze some lime on top!
If you’d like to remove the slime, place the cactus strips in boiling water for about 10 minutes. Remove, strain and then cook as indicated above.