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What are nopales?

Do you love Mexican cuisine and their exotic ingredients? If so, you most likely heard about Nopales. Most people not familiar with the Mexican cuisine don’t have a clue what this is, or how to prepare it.

In this article, we are about to share everything that you need to know about Nopeles. We will also share how to cook them, and what kind of Mexican recipes you can cook with Nopales. 

What are Nopales?

Nopales represent the prickly pear cactus paddles. Most Mexican markets sell it, as they are the edible parts of the cactus. These green pads are often grilled and left whole, or they can also be chopped to use it for salads, soups or other dishes.

Nopales stand out due to its unique flavor and the taste will definitely surprise you. Overall, the taste is similar to green beans, but it has an extra citrusy touch.

Where to buy Nopales?

Where in the US can I buy Nopales? Online, we know that Amazon sells fresh Nopales here. There are other specialized vendors as well. The best Nopales you will of course find in Mexico. Most (if not all) Mexican restaurants will also have nopales on the menu. It’s an extremely popular ingredient in Mexican cuisine.

When purchasing Nopales, you should:

  • Select cactus leaves with thick and even forms
  • Search for solid leaves without cracks, wrinkles or bruised areas
  • Opt for medium to dark green leaves
  • Avoid wiled leaves, as these are old

Make sure if you order Nopales online that you use a service (like Amazon) that have a beneficial return policy. It’s always better to buy vegetables and ingredients in the local supermarket, so you can check on quality and freshness.

Also, nopales can stay fresh in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks. All you have to do is wrap it tightly in plastic.

Are there any health benefits of eating Nopales?

Eating Nopales can offer many health benefits. Some of these benefits include:

  • An additional source of fiber for your body, which can aid in digestion and heart health
  • Eyesight health protector due to the high content of vitamin A
  • Immune system adjuvant due to the rich content of both vitamin A and C
  • Heart health adjuvant due to the potassium content
  • An additional source of magnesium and manganese, helpful for energy production, bone and nervous system health

Nopales are also very tasty, so it’s basically a win-win. Definitely give them a try when you find this delicious ingredient.

How to cook Nopales?

  • Use kitchen tongs or gloves, so that you can hold and remove the spines of the cactus leaves
  • Trim the edges and make sure you rinse the paddles thoroughly
  • Cut them into small pieces
  • Put those trips in a pot with an adequate amount of water. Let it boil for up to 18 minutes.
  • From this point on, you can drain and use Nopales in salads, stews, egg scrambles or many other recipes

Our favorite Nopales recipe is the one for tacos. You will have to:

  • Use four chopped Nopales and sautee them
  • Add ½ of sliced red onion and cook the mixture for 3 minutes on medium heat
  • Add ¾ cup of chopped cilantro, ¼ cup of lime juice, 1 chopped serrano chile and ¾ cup of soy sauce
  • Cook this mixture for 3 minutes
  • Assemble the tacos n heated tortillas. Make sure you add enough guacamole in the center for the tastiest results

So, this is how to cook Nopales at home. This ingredient is so versatile that you can use it with salads, ground beef, and authentic Mexican recipes.