They were already impressed. Then I told them we could eat the beasts.
That was the moment I realized I didn't know what I was going to with all this cactus. Back to the Internet. Someone mentioned that boiled nopales taste a little like green beans so I decided to trust them and put together a salad.
Note: I started with 8 cactus leaves. You probably don't need that many. As it was my first time I'm pretty sure I shaved off way more leaf than I needed to in order to avoid eating spines later. There are a few YouTube videos of people cleaning cactus leaves much more efficiently that I did. So as I was saying...
Nopales (AKA Cactus Leaf) Salad
5-8 prickly pear cactus leaves (nopales), spines and edges removed, sliced into small strips or pieces
1 medium onion (half to boil in water with nopales, other half chopped for the salad)
1 Tbsp. salt
1 large tomato, seeded and chopped
1 red, orange, or yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 medium ripe avocado
3 Tbsp. cilantro, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh oregano, chopped
1 serrano pepper, seeded and minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lemon, zest and juice
1 cup queso fresco, crumbled
2 Tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add half an onion, 1 Tbsp. salt, and the nopales. Boil about 12 minutes. Be careful it doesn't boil over.
2. Remove nopales from stove, drain, rinse in cold water. Discard onion.
3. Combine cold nopales, chopped onion, tomato, bell pepper, avocado, cilantro, oregano, serrano pepper, garlic, lemon zest, and queso fresco in large bowl and toss together.
4. In separate bowl, whisk lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour over salad and toss to coat.