I like nopales. OK, they’re not for everyone, (their texture is a bit like okra) but I really, really like them.
Our next-door neighbor Doña Elena has practically no income, but she enjoys bringing us little gifts, usually food. Last week she brought two glasses filled with red gelatin, and some nopales she had harvested and prepared herself. Yesterday when we were sweeping the street in the early morning she asked me how we liked the nopales. We had forgotten about them, I’m afraid, but I told her they were wonderful – very tender. Right after that I got them from the refrigerator and prepared them so I wouldn’t have to feel so guilty.
Nopales are the pads of the prickly pear cactus, and they are low in calories and contain modest amounts of vitamins and minerals.
I cut them into strips and boiled them. As they are boiling, nopales make lots and lots of bubbles, and you have to tend them so they don’t boil over. When they are cooked you drain them and cool them quickly, and throw away all the now-slimy, bubbly water.
After they are rinsed they are not (so) slimy, and you can prepare a salad with them (with chopped onions, tomatoes and cilantro), or use them like a vegetable in main dish recipes. I asked Elena if she wanted to use them and she said yes.
Today she cooked some very pretty flor de mayo beans – they are a pinkish pale yellow, and cook fairly quickly, and then she added the prepared nopales.
I could scarcely believe it last week when a truck came through town with large red tomatoes for sale for 4 pesos per kilo. We bought 2 kilos, and have been enjoying sliced tomatoes often. (Four pesos is less than forty cents, and a kilo is well over two pounds – figure it out!)
And today i sliced the last two and served them with the beans and nopales, and toast. it was a wonderful meal!