In the image above you can see the leaves of the nopal, or prickly pear cactus, with spines removed, all ready to cook. They're most commonly prepared chopped into small rectangles and boiled or just fried without oil in a pan with the lid on, then mixed in with diced and sautéed onion and tomato, garlic too, if you want. To this you can add a little chopped coriander, and it's served as a topping for sopes or huaraches, as a filling for tacos, gorditas and quesadillas, and as an accompaniment to grilled or barbecued meat, or eggs.
Here are some other ways to prepare nopales:
- Barbecue or grill the whole leaf with cheese melted on top.
- Slit open the leaf, stuff with cheese, fry in batter and serve with a tomato-based sauce.
- Pickled in vinegar with jalapeño chillies.
- Blended raw with orange juice or other fruit juices.
- Candied and covered in chilli powder, as a healthy snack!
However, nopales have many health benefits: they are extremely high in fibre (which is why drinking the raw blended nopal in a juice has become a popular component of many diets) and they also have antibacterial properties. So what's not to like? Healthy, versatile, delicious and 100% Mexican!