Wednesday, February 15, 2017

@Eatingsoulfully Preparing Nopal Cactus for salad #GardenCuizine #MexicanCooking #Diabetic #Nopales

Preparing Nopales
Prickly Pear Cactus
Fresh Prickly Pear Cactus pads

I knew I wanted to cook nutritious Prickly Pear Cactus after reading Constance Brown-Riggs' article about it's health benefits in Today's Dietitian magazine. Our first recipe was a Cactus Salad. This popular Mexican dish tasted better than you may think! But, finding the cactus may be a little tricky.  

First, we went to our local ShopRite. They only had Cactus Pears, which is the fruit of the Prickly Pear Cactus. Then we tried Wegman's, another supermarket. One of their produce guys told us they have not carried Nopales since October. I asked him if it was a seasonal item; he said he didn't think so. I did a quick search for local Mexican markets on my iPhone... we took a short drive and found it at Mi Ranchito in Moorestown, NJ - success!

We lucked out, the moist, green paddles were already prepared and ready-to-go in plastic baggies with 4 paddles per baggie. The cactus was in the stores refrigerated section next to a batch of fresh cilantro. 

To prepare Prickly Pear Cactus pads, carefully trim the thorns off and slice off the nubs too. To do it, run your chefs knife along each side; then trim around the outer edge (see above photo).

Cactus can be cooked several ways. One way is to brush each side with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and grill. We cut ours into bite sized pieces and boiled it for use in Cactus Salad. The cooking liquid reminded me of Aloe Vera juice so I saved it to add to smoothies. Even Mom loves this high fiber nutritious food. 

GardenCuizine Cactus recipes coming soon....

Related Links
Dynamics of Diabetes: Prickly Pear Cactus 
Cactus Pears

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