Preparing Cactus Pads (Nopales)


I first had nopales (cactus pads) in a street taco years ago and have been hooked ever since!  They have a chewy texture with a light, tart flavor.  If you aren’t lucky enough to have a grocery that sells them de-thorned and ready to use, then the steps below describe how to prepare them.  I love them plain (sauteed or grilled), but they also make a great addition to tacos and salsa.


cactus pads (nopales)


1.  CAUTION: the cactus pads are VERY thorny, so please be careful (see picture on the left)!  Wear gloves if you feel uncomfortable with the prickly thorns.

2.  Use a knife to carefully cut off the thorns (I work against the grain by starting a the broad flat end and cutting towards the thick base).  Throw the thorny parts away.

3.  Once all the dark eyes are gone, take a sharp knife and trim all the way around the cactus pad (see picture on the right).  You’re now ready to cook it!


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