Friday, June 7, 2013

Ensalada de Nopales-Cactus Salad

It's about 97 degrees here in East bay San Francisco, and all I can think about is what am I going to make for dinner. When it's hot, I'm sure no one likes to be in the kitchen over a hot stove. Well neither do I, so I headed over to our not so local Mexican Grocery store. It's about 15-20 minutes away, but totally worth the drive.

I picked up some ingredients to make ceviche ( a later post on that), and some nopales, also known as prickly pear cactus. 

If you haven't heard about nopales, they have a similar taste to green beans or asparagus, with a little gelatinous center and a bit of a citrus taste. They are high in fiber and low in calories :) 
They are said to be a natural food/aid for managing diabetes and cholesterol.

You can buy them already cut into strips in a jar, or wide pieces with spiny bits still on them, or you can buy them by the package, spiny bits removed.

Buying them in the package is the way to go, you get a fresher taste and you don't have to spend the time slicing of the spiny bits. Just make sure they are tender, not too hard and not too soft.

My mom cooks nopales in a few different ways. Even though I'm trying to avoid the stove on a hot day, this only takes a little bit of stove time, which isn't too bad.

 Chop up however much your going to use, place it in a pot, cover them with about about 1/2 inch over with water. Add a piece of white/yellow onion, sprinkle some salt, and a garlic clove. Medium heat is good. You don't have to wait for the water to boil, just taste a piece and it should be soft. 
Drain the nopales, and put them in a bowl or plate. 

From here you can add some diced up tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and a jalapeño. Mix it all up and it's done.
 Sauté the chopped nopales in some oil with tomatoes, onions, add homemade salsa, cilantro, and eat it with flour/corn tortillas. 
Lastly, you can avoid the whole stove part, and take the nopales outside and place them on a bbq. 
Take the whole piece out of the bag and put it on a grill until it gets roasted and tender. No boiling before is necessary for this style.  Slice it up, add homemade salsa, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and eat it with a flour/corn tortilla in a taco style.

There also good by themselves, just sprinkle a little salt and pepper and your done.

The method I chose today was the first method:
I bought my package like this

 I let the mixture sit in the fridge for about 30 minutes, and my cool snack in the middle of a hot day was perfect.

Oh yeah, one more thing. You can always sprinkle some fresh Cacique Cheese- Queso Fresco on top!

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