Eatin' Cactus

I am the first to admit that I'm a weird eater. I don't eat red meat or fowl, but love seafood and I do eat my Vitamin P...aka weekly dose of pork. I hate any kind of offal and anything made with offal, love Brussels sprouts and beets and think lima beans are absolutely disgusting.

But I am almost willing to try anything. And I really love finding new, somewhat esoteric foods that are nutritious and delicious.

When we lived in Mexico, there was a period of time when David and I drank our daily glass of jugo de pina y nopal (pineapple juice with cactus leaves) and we loved it. Nopales are an amazingly healthy and absolutely yummy food that is indigenous in Mexico. They are naturally low in calories, full of fiber and rich in vitamins. The Mexican doctor told David nopales would cure whatever ailed him.

I've had some fab ensalada de nopales and nopales as a breakfast entree at a Mexican restaurant, but I have never made them at home as they tend to be quite slimy if not prepared properly.

Yesterday when I was l was at the Legacy Outdoor Market, I bought loads of fresh produce from Senor Estrada—spring lettuce mix, carrots, baby zucchini and squash, kohlrabi—and of course farm fresh eggs. We got all of this for $11. As we were walking away, we saw a bag of nopales (cactus) on the table. David quickly grabbed it, I asked how to make it so it's not slimy and listened as Estrada told me how to prepare it. Needless to say, we walked away with the $2 bolsa de nopales, too.

On the way home we agreed that we'd make huevos con nopales (eggs with cactus leaves) for breakfast.

So this morning David picked up some homemade corn tortillas from a Mexican restaurant around the corner from the house and got both of the dogs two papa con huevo tacos on corn tortillas, too. (Nacho loves tacos and if you even say "tacos" he goes crazy and starts licking your face!)

When I tasted my huevos con nopales taco this morning, I said, "Where have you been all of my life?" And I meant that. With the leftover nopales, I am going to whip us a little ensalada de nopal and hope that Senor Estrada brings more bolsas de nopales to the market again very soon.

Buen provecho!

Huevos con Nopales
The Cowgirl Gourmet

Print Recipe

Serves 2

1 lb. nopales, prepared and diced cactus leaves (you'll just use 1 cup for this recipe)
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 garlic clove
1/4 cup chopped onion, red or yellow
1/2 diced jalapeno or serrano, seeds and ribs removed
1/2 tomato, diced
4 farm fresh eggs, beaten
2 Tablespoons cilantro, chopped

In a heavy soup pot, bring 2 quarts of water to boil. Add 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, peeled garlic clove and nopales. Stir and cook for 15-20 minutes uncovered.

Drain in a colander and rinse several times to remove any sliminess that might remain (mine had no sliminess on them, and I was grateful). Set aside.

In a saute pan, add a little butter, Smart Balance or oil of your choice over medium high heat. When the oil/butter is bubbling, add the chopped onion and stir to coat. Sprinkle with a little salt and allow to cook for 2-3 minutes.

Add diced jalapeno or serrano pepper, stir well and cook for 1-2 minutes.

Add the chopped tomato and stir to combine cooking another 2-3 minutes.

Add 1 cup cooked nopales and stir to combine, cooking about 2 minutes.

Add a little more butter or oil and then add the beaten farm fresh eggs (notice the amazingly orange yolks of these eggs, which are unlike the pale yellow yolks of store-bought eggs). You could add some cheese at this point, if you want. Cook until desired doneness, sprinkle with a little more salt, fresh pepper and cilantro.

Serve on a hot, preferrably homemade corn tortilla, add a spoonful of salsa and enjoy! Eat the taco and repeat.
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