Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Nopales Cooking Notes

Bought a small bag of freshly-cut nopales at my favorite hispanic market, as my family is open to trying new Mexican dishes. Nopales are the paddles of prickly pear cactuses...chefs skin the paddles, chop and use like other veggies, such as bell peppers or various chiles. They're supposed to be refreshing and slightly sweet.

Raw, the nopales tasted sweeter than exepcted, lemony-limey with pepper tones...more like fruit than veggie. The nopales strips were sauteed in canola oil until tender and light olive green, and seasoned with garlic salt and a touch of cayenne pepper. While simmering, the nopales carmelized far more than I imagined, probably due to the high sugar content. We enjoyed them in warmed corn tortillas, topped with grated cheddar.

Unanimous verdict - We wouldn't have them again as veggie side dish...too sweet and syrupy. They were delicious raw, though, and would be a unique, flavorful veggie dip with carrots, celery, jicama, cauliflower and the like.

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