Nopales are a super food. We have a stand in our garden and I prepare them as a side dish, a salad and a taco filling. Nopales can be purchased ready to cook in most latin groceries both here and in the U.S. Lucky you, because cleaning them is sort of a pain, but I don’t mind because they’re easy to grow, delicious and free!
Nopales al Vapor (this recipe is roughly from Dianna Kennedy’s Essential Cuisines of México)
2 Tbles vegetable oil
2 cloves of garlic chopped
1 pound nopales, cleaned and cut in strips or cubes (I prefer strips)
2 Tbles chopped onion
1-2 serranoes thinly sliced
2 large sprigs epazote or cilantro, roughly chopped
Heat the oil, fry the garlic until translucent and then add everything but the epazote. Cover the pan and cook over low heat, stirring from time to time until the nopales are almost tender: their viscose juices will exude.
Uncover and raise the heat a bit cooking until the sticky liquid has dried up. At this point I like to whisk in a couple of eggs, though it’s not traditional. They make the nopales hang together and easier to eat, also the richness offsets the acidity of the cactus paddles. Add the herb in the last couple of minutes, stir, and fill your tortillas.
I chose machine made tortillas this time. The traditional condiments are queso fresco, and a dollop of sour cream. I also added Salsa de chili Arbol, which I buy because it’s brutal to make. The frying and blending of chili arbol chokes the air with capsicum! But the tacos don’t really need salsa, I was just in the mood for major heat.