What are exactly are nopales you ask? They are the EDIBLE pads of a prickly pear cactus.
Although they are available in the United States, they are certainly not mainstream. I never knew what they are before living in Mexico. And even after living two years in Los Cabos and watching the guys in the supermarket expertly shave off their spines, I still didn’t have much interest.
Fast forward a few years to me living in Mexico City, and they are a constant in my diet. In our house, I make a detox juice with them, especially on Mondays to wash away the weekend! We grill them and serve with other roasted veggies, put them on burgers, serve them on the side with tacos and I have now mastered the Mexican- style cold nopal salad.
The health benefits are incredible! The Mexicans have all the good secrets, I mean they have been eating this superfood for thousands of years.
High in Fiber
Alleviate Bloating and Inflammation
Aid Healthy Digestion
Aid Weight Loss
Regulate Heart Health
Great Source of tons of Vitamins, Minerals and contain Organic Phytochemicals which help balance the system overall
Aids with Sleep
Whoa, right? Well first, you probably want to know what is this incredible nutritive food is like to actually eat. I kind of feel they are kind of an acquired taste. They can be crunchy, and the liquid inside is a bit like aloe. They are very fresh tasting and can have a bit of a vinegar flavor. Maybe a bit of a string bean crunch?
Def buy them with the spines off, you don’t want to get into removing the prickers!
Cook them a bit al dente, like pasta! You want to keep the crunchy texture. Here in Mexico, they are served as a taco topping and sometimes a little soft and limp. When they start changing from their bright green to a bit duller color, it’s time to take them out.
If you are going to make a Nopal salad or just want the pads to put on a burger, the new way I have discovered to prepare them is to roast them in the oven. Whole or sliced in strips, toss them with a little olive oil, Himalayan salt and fresh pepper on a baking sheet, preferably one with edges. When cooking, Nopales can secrete a lot of liquid, especially if you slice them, and you will want to transfer that to your serving bowl- there are so many nutrients in there.
Store Nopales in the fridge in an airtight container. The spots where the spines have been removed reveal the meat of the nopal, and if they sit for long in contact with the air they will turn brown like an avocado.
Definitely try them this summer, as its prime season for nopales.
I am dying for your guys to incorporate this superfood into your diet. I did a little research, and if they aren’t available in your area, you can have them delivered. Try Rivenrock for fresh nopales delivered to your door.
Below find two easy recipes for Nopales to get you started, but honestly, it’s just as easy as throwing them on the grill with your corn and peppers all summer. Enjoy!! Please send me your questions and comments and tag @gueramx on Instagram with your creations!