Let’s Eat Cactus

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Let’s Eat Cactus

The other night Fred and I went over to the next little town, San Agustinillo, for dinner. As always, I am trying to make things work for my vegan diet. Slim pickings. But, one thing on the menu caught my fancy, Ensalada de Nopales. I had never tried nopales, but the salad sounded good, so I decided to give it a go. It was wonderful. I did some research on line and learned that they are very healthy for you and that they have been a food staple in Mexico for 6,000 years. So, tonight I am doing my own version of this salad. I went to the market yesterday and bought some cactus paddles that were already stripped of their thorns. Javier said. “You don’t need to buy those. They are growing all over Las Casitas.” But, I had watched a few YouTube videos and already had decided that it would be wonderful if someone else had cut the thorns off. If I recall correctly, I think you can buy these in the produce section of Whole Foods as well. I am sure, however, that I’ll be making lots more trips to the mercados on Nolensville Road when we come back to Nashville.

So, here’s what I did to get the nopales (I had bought a bag that contained about 8 of them) ready for the salad:
Washed them, and cut off the very bottom parts of the leaves.
Cut them into strips.
Boiled them for 15 minutes in water.
Drained and rinsed them.
I sautéed an onion and two cloves of garlic in about 4 T of olive oil. I scooped the onion and garlic out and put them in a refrigerator container to save to use in something later. Probably the red sauce for something later in the week. I just wanted to use them to add a bit of flavor to the oil.
I added the rinsed and sliced nopales to the hot oil and stir fried them for about 10 minutes.
I put them on paper towels to take off the excess oil and then I put them in the refrigerator.

To make the salad I added to the cooked and cooled nopales —
1 large ripe plum tomato, chopped
1 avocado, coarsely chopped. This is a bit heavy on the avocado, but I love it. You could just as easily use 1/2.
1 small chopped onion. Purple would be great for the color, but I only had white.
About 1 T chopped cilantro
About 1/4 finely chopped seeded, jalapeño pepper. (This is totally a matter of personal taste. I don’t like too much caliente.)
Juice of 1/2 lime.

Toss with honey mustard dressing. Garnish with a bit of sliced radish, or a sprig of cilantro.
Try this one. You’ll be pleased.
If you have salad left over, throw it into scrambled eggs for breakfast. ¡Buen provecho!

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