Nopales (Nopalitos - chopped, cooked cactus pads) provides dietary fiber along with antioxidants and lots of other healthy nutrients. Prickly Pear Cactus has even been shown to lower blood glucose in people who are diabetic, which I find very interesting since I work with adults and kids with pre-diabetes and diabetes.
We cooked cactus for the first time on Super Bowl Sunday for use in this simple Mexican salad. The salad tasted so good it didn't last long in our house. Leftover salad was enjoyed wrapped up in warm corn tortillas for lunch the next day.
Have you ever tried it? I wondered what cactus would taste like. After reading posts that cactus tasted similar to green beans, I wasn't sure I'd like it. I'm not a big green bean fan. I was pleasantly surprised how good it was. Nopalitos didn't really have a distinct flavor; the texture was tender-crisp, similar to asparagus.
This recipe was inspired from a Tender Cactus Salad recipe posted online from McCormick. The recipe does not call for avocado, but some people I've spoken with tell me that they make their cactus salad with avocado in it.
The Mexican market where we found Nopales was sold out of Mexican oregano, so I made it without oregano; it tasted good. I imagine it would be even better with the traditional herb. I didn't substitute Italian oregano because Mexican oregano is not the same.
We've grown Italian oregano for years; now, I look forward to growing Mexican oregano.
When you try Prickly Pear Cactus, let us know how you liked it and how you prepared it. Here is my recipe:
1 1/2 cups cooked Nopales (2 Prickly Pear Cactus pads)
3/4 cup diced fresh tomatoes
1 cup crumbled Queso Fresco* Mexican cheese
1/3 cup chopped onion
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1/8 teaspoon (tsp) salt
pinch fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp Mexican Oregano
Putting it all together
Cook Nopales: refer to below link on how to prepare cactus for cooking: slice prepared cactus pads. Add to soup pot and fill with water. Bring to a gentle boil and cook 25 minutes. Drain, saving cactus (juice) liquid for other recipes.
Combine cooled cooked cactus and remaining ingredients. Let sit room temperature before serving for flavors to blend. Stir a few times before serving. Refrigerate leftovers.
* Queso Fresco is an unaged mild cheese that can be found in a Mexican market.
Excellent Source: Vitamin C*
Good Source: Protein and Calcium
GardenCuizine Prickly Pear Salad Nutrition Facts: this information is based on the only USDA Nutrient Data for Cactus Pears. *The green cactus paddles may not be as high in vitamin C as the pear buds.
1/6 of recipe (107 g): 84 calories, total fat 5g, saturated fat 3g, trans fat 0, cholesterol 11mg, Sodium 210mg (9% DV), total Carbohydrate 6g, dietary Fiber 2g (8% DV), sugar 1g, Protein 5g, Vitamin C ~12.9mg (~22% DV), Calcium 135mg (13% DV), Magnesium ~36.8mg (~9% DV)
Oregano: Mediterranean and Mexican
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