Prickly Pear Nopales: A New Grilling Classic

Prickly Pear Cactus Prickly Pear Nopales: A New Grilling Classic

Who say’s Cactus isn’t edible?  Did you know that if you grow Prickly Pear in your yard or sunroom you’ve got a great and unusual addition to the common tortilla. Prickly Pear are edible, from the fruits to the leaf pads, which are known as Nopales, they’ve been a welcome addition to the desert kitchen for hundreds and possibly thousands of years!  They can be harvested in the spring, fall, and summer, and you can grill them like a pro in minutes to impress all your friends!

How to Choose Your Leaves:

The best leaves for cooking are bright in color, fleshy, and wrinkle free.  It’s generally better to cook using younger leaves, and to handle them with care until the have been de-spined.  Cut the leaves off with a pair of pruners, and heavy gloves on to protect yourself from the invisible spines.  Rinse the Nopales off under cool water, and grip them by the end individually with a glove or kitchen towel to de-spine in a downward motion.

How To Cook:

The easiest way to cook Prickly Pear is to paint vegetable oil on both sides of the Nopales and set them on an open grill.  Cook them until they have changed from a juicy dark green to a drier light tan.  Lay them on a cutting board and slice them into half inch strips and use them inside a tortilla shell in place of meat.  Layer them with with grilled onions, and fresh Pico de Gallo, or Guacamole and Mango salsa.  The cooked Prickly Pear pad has a lemony taste that is unusual, and a great new addition to a common appetizer or light dinner meal.  Try it out at your next entertaining event, or just for a little Sunday night football snack!

Photo Courtesy of: ingridtaylar

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