Nopales (Cactus Leaves) and Guacamole

I can’t believe I am nearing my 100th post and I have never posted a recipe of one of my FAVORITE dishes…Nopales! There is one big reason: I haven’t been able to get my hands on them in over 3 years. I found it extremely odd and surprising that I came across a whole section of Nopales at Kroger Marketplace my second week here, when it was so incredibly difficult to find it in MIAMI, Florida! You would think that the abundance of international cuisine and supermarkets in Miami would make it easier to find these little cactus leaves. Needless to say, I stopped making them, until a few weeks ago when I found them again. I bought 3 cans so I would have enough stored, but I must admit I am on my last can; they are THAT good.

How to use Nopales in salad:

There is a very good dish at a restaurant called Talavera in Coral Gables, Florida. In case you didn’t know, Coral Gables is famous for its restaurants. It’s a great place to visit if you have never been. Anyway, this Mexican restaurant has a great lunch special which includes an entree, iced tea, and dessert, which is usually sorbet of some odd flavor. I always used to order the Cactus Salad, made with Nopales, some sort of lemon juice, and portobello mushrooms. When I make it at home, however, I use the recipe I was taught by a family friend over a decade ago. It is great served with corn tortillas, sliced steak, pico de gallo, and guacamole. I also add white rice and black beans to my tacos when I make them. My favorite meal ever!

Ingredients:

1 jar Nopales, drained and rinsed (I rinse it and leave it in the collander for at least an hour before serving, because the leaves can feel very slimy if not drained enough)

Half an onion, chopped

1 tomato, chopped

Cilantro, chopped

Salt

Pepper

Juice of 1 lime (about 1 tablespoon)

 

Directions:

Mix all the ingredients together and keep cold. Serve!

Nopales, known as cactus, have a firm texture, and absorb the flavors of the lime and cilantro well
Nopales, known as cactus, have a firm texture, and absorb the flavors of the lime and cilantro well

A dish featuring Nopales would not be complete (in my opinion) without some fresh guacamole. There are so many variations of guacamole out there, but I generally throw this together:

1 avocado (use an extra half if you have 3 people eating it instead of 2)

Half an onion, chopped (or 1/4 of an onion…it depends. You don’t want it too onion-ey)

Juice of 1 lime (or about 1 tablespoon)

Half a tomato (or less. Make sure the tomato is not watery. You want your guacamole to be thick, not watery)

Salt

Pepper

I don’t use chili in my avocado, but you can if you want. Most recipes call for them.

The guac being prepared...I don't own a molcajete (Mexican version of the mortar and pestle), but I'd like one
The guac being prepared…I don’t own a molcajete (Mexican version of the mortar and pestle), but I’d like one

guac2

Tacos!
Tacos!
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