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Cactus Salad (Ensalada de nopales)

In Salads, Vegetables On July 25, 2017 0 Comments

Nopal is from the Nahuatl word nohpalli for the pads of the cactus plant. There are over 100 known species of cactus in Mexico. The nopal pads are eaten raw, cooked and even grilled. They are used in stews, soups, jams and salads.

The best way to start this classic Mexican salad is to buy fresh cactus pads at a Latin American or Mexican supermarket. Here’s what a cactus pad or nopal looks like (don’t forget to buy this with thorns removed!):

Image.NopalWikipediaZoofariAttribution Photograph Attribution: Zoofari at English Wikipedia

Since nopales are abundant in Vitamin C and Manganese, you’ll enjoy a cactus salad that is delicious and good for you. Buen provecho!

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:
6 to 8 nopales (cactus leaves), thorns removed
½ of a brown or white onion
3 whole garlic cloves, peeled
½ of a red onion
2 medium, vine-ripened tomatoes
1 Serrano or Jalapeño chile
1 cup loosely-packed cilantro leaves
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
salt, to taste

Directions:
1. Working on a chopping board, cut the cactus leaves into ¼-inch thick strips.

2. Cut the strips into ¼-inch pieces; set aside in a bowl.

3. In a 4-quart saucepot, bring water to a boil. Add half of the brown or white onion and garlic cloves to water; boil for 3 to 5 minutes.

4. Add chopped nopales to the onion-garlic water; cook on medium, uncovered, for 5 minutes or until the green color has become lighter.

5. After 5 minutes, add ¾ teaspoon salt and taste a few nopal pieces – the texture should be crunchy-tender, not overcooked.

6. Place a colander in sink and drain the nopales. Run cold water through nopales; set aside in colander set over a bowl to drain.

Prepare Remaining Salad Ingredients:
1. Finely chop red onion and place it in a bowl, covered with cold water; set aside.

2. Cut each tomato in half; scoop out and discard the pulp.

3. Cut tomato flesh into ¼-inch strips; cut each strip into 1/4-inch pieces.

4. Place chopped tomatoes in a 2-quart glass or porcelain bowl.

5. Add drained nopales to the tomatoes in bowl.

6. Lift chopped onion out of water; squeeze out the excess water. Add onion to nopales mixture in bowl.

7. Finely chop Serrano or Jalapeño chile; add it to the nopales mixture in bowl.

8. Rinse cilantro in cold water and finely chop it; add cilantro to nopales salad.

9. Stir in the extra virgin olive oil with about ½ teaspoon salt; taste salad and adjust seasonings. Serve immediately.
Text & Cactus Salad Photograph ©2017 Nancy DeLucia Real

Nopales Frittata Burrito

Nopales Frittata Burrito

In Eggs Selections On April 30, 2010 0 Comments

Nopales (cactus) and scrambled eggs are an important food staple in Mexico. I admit that the first time I was offered a scramble of nopales I thought it was unusual to eat a food with cactus leaves in it.

Believe it or not, nopales, onion, eggs and tomatoes wrapped into a burrito make for a nutritional breakfast that everyone will enjoy.

In my bicultural home I created the Nopales Frittata Burrito, enjoyed immensely by my Italian Mexican son and all his friends. Try this recipe – the burritos won’t last very long!

Prep time: 35 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6

FIRST, COOK THE NOPALES:
2 to 3 large fresh nopales (cactus leaves), without thorns and cut into 1/2-inch squares, rinsed and drained
-OR-
One 15-ounce jar cooked nopales, rinsed, drained and cut into 1/2-inch squares

1. To cook fresh nopales: In a 5-quart saucepot bring 12 cups water and half the onion to a boil.

2. Add the fresh cut nopales and cook on medium-low heat, uncovered, 3 to 4 minutes or until nopales turn a lime green color.

3. Drain and rinse the nopales in a colander under cold water.

4. Discard onion, drain nopales again and set aside.

NEXT, PREPARE THE NOPALES FRITTATA:
1 medium brown or white onion, peeled and halved
3 large egg yolks
6 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 vine-ripened tomato, quartered, pulp removed and flesh cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1. Meanwhile, chop the remaining onion in 1/2-inch pieces and set aside in a small bowl.

2. In a separate 4-cup mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks, egg whites and salt together; set aside.

3. Heat the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet. Stir fry either fresh or jarred nopales with the chopped onion on medium heat, about 2 minutes.

4. Add the tomato pieces and stir fry an additional 2 minutes or until onion is translucent and mixture begins drying out. Set heat on low and pour the egg mixture over the nopales, onion and tomato in skillet.

5. Cover and cook about 2 minutes or until underside of frittata looks golden when lifted with a spatula.

6. Divide frittata into 4 to 6 wedges and flip each wedge over. Cook on low heat an additional 1 to 2 minutes.

7. Transfer the frittata pieces to a flat plate and set aside.

FINALLY, HEAT THE TORTILLAS & ASSEMBLE THE BURRITOS:
Four to six 8-inch flour tortillas

1. In the same skillet set over medium-low heat, warm two tortillas at a time, turning them over every 30 seconds until warmed through.

2. Repeat with remaining tortillas while beginning to assemble the burritos.

3. Place a warm tortilla on an individual plate and set a frittata wedge in its center horizontally.

4. Roll up one-third of the tortilla, folding in the sides to seal and roll up completely. Repeat with remaining tortillas and frittata wedges.

Serve with a favorite salsa or garnish with tomato slices.

Note: Fresh nopales (cactus leaves) are sold at farmers’ markets or Latin American markets, flesh cut into squares and bagged. If buying whole cactus leaves with thorns, place one leaf at a time in a large paper bag set on a counter and scrape off the thorns with a knife. The bag will prevent thorns from flying towards you or all over your kitchen.

Text ©2010 Nancy DeLucia Real
Burrito Photograph Only ©2010 Nancy DeLucia Real