Friday, 11 December 2015

Things to do in Mexico when you're hungry - #6 Nopales

In the latest installment of my series on Mexican food I'm featuring a dish made with cactus leaves - it couldn't sound more Mexican if it tried!


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!
The main disadvantage when cooking nopales is that they are a bit slimy (now I've made them sound really unappealing!).  You can get rid of the slime by rinsing them in hot water after cooking or, while they're boiling, cover the pan with a clean damp cloth.

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!


Seychelles Mama

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  1. Wow,would have had no idea you could eat these and that they'd be nice!I love to try new things! x #kcacols

    1. Me too, trying new food is one of the most exciting things about being in a different country! Thanks for commenting!

  2. What a great way to introduce people to new things! It blows my mind that cactus is edible, but I'd love to try it if I ever get the chance.

    1. It's good, has quite a mild vegetable flavour. Not easy to find in Europe, though!

  3. Woohoo I always get excited about your food posts!! This is so awesome. Is it commonly eaten there? I love how versatile it is, the idea of cooking it on the BBQ sounds very appealing! Thanks for sharing with #myexpatfamily

  4. Love this idea - didn't think cactus leaves were edible.
    Definitely a twist on your normal Mexican meal :)
    I have a great receipe for mexican chicken soup on my blog - check it out, it's amazing!!


    KT xo.

  5. Oh and #KCACOLS

    Not sure my other comment posted. But this looks so interesting, I love to try new foods and embrace different cultures and especially with something you wouldn't consider edible. I love bbq food so that definitely appeals to me, I'd try it given the chance!

  6. Oh, my sister-in-law cooks these for Thanksgiving! I've never tried them, but I wouldn't say no. Some of those recipe ideas you shared sound yum!
    Thanks for linking up with #KCACOLS

  7. I was just telling my Chinese teacher yesterday (in Chinese of course!) ha ha that Mexico was on my list of places to visit. I really would love to see it and I can imagine the food is amazing! Look forward to hanging out on your blog for a taste of all things Mexican. :) Nicole

  8. I saw these on a farmers market today and said I bet Ruth knows what to do with them! We didn't buy any though! x