According to Wikipedia there are anywhere from 1500 to 1800 species of Cacti.
The nopales (cactus) most commonly used in salads and other recipes are the ones below. If you've never had nopales and are wondering what they taste like....here's my take on that. They taste like a cooked green bean that's been pickling itself in lemon juice. Yes, the green bean pickles itself. :)
No, I'm not talking about the handsome fella in the picture, I'm referring to the green spiny cactus paddles behind him. Sorry but I couldn't find a better picture of the nopales. ;) Haha! Well, he looks kinda spiny in the face.....anyhow, back to the recipe.
This Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
This is truly my Mom's recipe and if you watch the video that is linked at the bottom of this post she's the Star in it. The list of stuff you'll need to make my Mom's Ensalada de Nopales is right above the linked video.
List of stuff you'll need:
5 cactus paddles (diced) There areIU some supermarkets that sell needle-less, cleaned, trimmed and chopped nopales. If you can't find them that way and you must clean them yourself be very careful. The needles are very sharp and you'll be in pain. Believe me, I know. It feels like splinters, just a whole bunch at one time.
1/2 of a medium sized onion (diced)
1 1/2 cups of diced tomatoes
1/2 cup cilantro (chopped)
2 serrano chiles (finely chopped)
1 garlic clove
salt - about a small handful for the water you boil the nopales in and then some to season the salad
The tostadas and avocado for garnishing are optional. This salad may be eaten by itself or as a side dish to accompany the protein of your choice.
Put it together:
Don't forget to watch the how to video below.
Rinse the nopales under cold water. Nopales are very slimy when fresh and its sliminess will not wash away. It will however go away once they're cooked. Place a piece of onion, the garlic, a small handful of salt and the nopales in a pot with about twice the amount of boiling water. Example: one cup of nopales, two cups of water and so on. Bring everything to a boil and cook until the nopales are tender and the sliminess goes away, about 20 minutes. Drain and let them cool down. Add the onion, tomatoes, cilantro and serrano chiles. Mix and serve. Season with more salt if necessary. ENJOY!