Cactus Tacos: Tacos de Nopal

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Tacos de Nopal are very popular throughout Mexico during the spring. There are various ways to prepare them and this is one of my favorites. You might be able to find cactus, or prickly pear, cleaned, sliced and ready to cook at your grocery store. If not, cleaning the cactus pads is fairly simple; just follow the instructions bellow.

Makes 6-8 tacos

2-3 prickly pear pads or 3 cups sliced cactus

6-8 corn tortillas

4 Roma tomatoes, chopped

2 fresh jalapeños, chopped (optional)

1/4 white onion, chopped

handful of fresh, chopped cilantro

juice of 2 limes

1/4 tsp. ground cumin

salt, pepper to taste

Toppings: Avocado, salsa, and queso fresco or your favorite crumbly white cheese

*When handling prickly pear pads, use rubber gloves and/or tongs to avoid getting the spines or thorns into your skin.

Place the cactus pad flat down and using a knife, going against the grain, scrape off the top surface of the cactus removing the knobs and small thorns.  Flip over and do the same to the other side. After both sides have been scraped, slice around the edge of the cactus removing the end pieces. Rinse under cold water. Make sure you have removed all the thorns.

On a clean surface, slice cactus into thin pieces. Place in a medium pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook for 4o minutes on high heat. After 40 minutes, remove from heat and drain water. Rinse under cold water for about 2 minutes and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine chopped tomatoes, jalapeños, onion, cilantro, lime juice, and cumin.

Add sliced cactus. Add salt and pepper according to taste.

Warm the corn tortillas on the stove. Top with cactus mixture and top with avocado, salsa, and crumbly cheese.

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