Nopales, otherwise known as nopalito, cactus paddles or cactus pads are the spiky succulent leaf like parts found on the cactus tree, home also to prickly pears.
Austrian chef Hans Neuner cooks with them in the Algarve, they have featured on the menu at New Yorks’s Cosme and Mexican chef Jorge Vallejo,from restaurant Quintonil has had a moment with them as well as most recently starring in the competitive chef TV series, The Final Table.
What’s more they have also been identified as one of the 50 Foods of the Future.
What are Nopales?
Nopales are the flat fleshy paddles of oputina (prickly pear) cactus, native to the Americas.
They are commonly used in Mexican cuisine and treated like a vegetable in popular dishes like huevos con nopales (eggs with nopal), or tacos de nopales as well as now being found in New Mexican cuisine.
They taste a little like green beans, or green peppers and asparagus.
How to Prepare Nopales?
Most importantly, before cooking with nopales the small spines must be carefully removed Watch how to prepare them:
How to cook Nopales
Nopales can be eaten raw in salads or boiled, grilled or fried or preserved in brine, turned into jams and candied fruit and blended into soups or eaten as an accompaniement, or simply on their own.
Start with this easy recipe with Rick Bayless show how to grill nopales in the clip below:
Nopales con huevo recipe
Try making nopales in this delicious version of Mexican scrambled eggs for breakfast or brunch:
Or, try elevating Nopales in this salad recipe from ground breaking Mexican chef Enrique Olvera.