What Are Nopalitos?
Nopalitos are the edible young paddles of the prickly pear cactus, grown throughout their native Mexico, the southwestern United States, and the Mediterranean (brought back by the conquistadores).
Where To Buy Nopalitos
The paddles are widely available in Mexican markets in the US, either whole (with spines) or prepared (cleaned, spines removed, chopped).
They are tasty cooked and are used in many traditional Mexican dishes. Here is a quick, easy, and delisioso nopalitos recipe prepared for me by my Mexican friend and caterer Arturo Vargas.
Do you have a favorite nopalitos recipe? Please let us know about it in the comments.
How To Prepare Nopalitos for Cooking
If you have nopalitos that came prepared with their spines, or glochids, removed, simply cut the into pieces if they weren't already cut. If the nopalitos still have their spines, remove them. Slide a sharp knife across the surface of the paddle, removing the spines and the black spots they grow from. Turn the paddle over and do the same on the other side. When the nopalitos are completely clean, slice them into pieces.
When you cut into the paddles, you'll release a liquid that makes the nopalitos slimy, kind of like okra. That's okay.
More Mexican-Inspired Recipes to Try!
- Mexican Lasagna
- Grilled Mexican Street Corn (Elote)
- Southwestern Three Bean Salad
- Slow-Cooker Mexican Pulled Pork Tacos
- Mexican Shrimp Cocktail
Nopalitos with Tomatoes and Onions
1 pound nopalitos, stripped of spines, cleaned, and chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 red onion, roughly chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, stem and seeds removed, chopped
1 medium tomato, roughly chopped
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
Sauté the onions, garlic, and jalapeño:
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil (enough to coat the bottom of the pan) in a large sauté pan on medium high heat. Add red onion, garlic, and jalapeño. Cook for a minute, stirring occasionally.
Add the nopalitos, then the tomatoes:
Add the nopalitos. Cook for several more minutes. Then add the chopped tomato.
Continue to cook until all vegetables are cooked through.
Season, then serve:
Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 3 to 4|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 4g||5%|
|Saturated Fat 0g||2%|
|Total Carbohydrate 7g||3%|
|Dietary Fiber 3g||11%|
|Total Sugars 3g|
|Vitamin C 15mg||77%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|