I am the first to admit that I’m a weird eater. I don’t eat red meat or fowl, but love seafood and I do eat my Vitamin P–aka weekly dose of pork. Otherwise, my German ancestors would disown me. I hate any kind of offal and anything made with offal, love Brussels sprouts and beets and think lima beans are absolutely disgusting.
But I am willing to try almost anything. And I really love finding new, somewhat esoteric foods that are equal parts nutritious and delicious.
When we lived in Mexico, there was a period of time when David and I drank our daily glass of jugo de pina y nopal (pineapple juice with cactus leaves). Nopales are an amazingly healthy and absolutely yummy food that is indigenous in Mexico. They are naturally low in calories, full of fiber and rich in vitamins. The Mexican doctor told David nopales would cure whatever ailed him.
I’ve had some fab ensalada de nopales and nopales as a breakfast entree at a Mexican restaurant, but I have never made them at home as they tend to be quite slimy if not prepared properly.
Yesterday when I was l was at the Legacy Outdoor Market, I bought loads of fresh produce from Senor Estrada—spring lettuce mix, carrots, baby zucchini and squash, kohlrabi—and of course farm fresh eggs. We got all of this for $11. As we were walking away, we saw a bag of nopales (cactus) on the table. David quickly grabbed it, I asked how to make it so it’s not slimy and listened as Estrada told me how to prepare it. Needless to say, we walked away with the $2 bolsa de nopales, too.
On the way home we agreed that we’d make huevos con nopales (eggs with cactus leaves) for breakfast.
This morning David drove directly to the Mexican restaurant around the corner from the house for our fix of homemade corn tortillas and got both of the dogs two papa con huevo tacos on corn tortillas, too. (Nacho loves tacos and if you even say “tacos” he goes crazy and starts licking your face!)
When I tasted my huevos con nopales taco this morning, I said, “Where have you been all of my life?” And I meant that. With the leftover nopales, I am going to whip us a little ensalada de nopal and hope that Senor Estrada brings more bolsas de nopales to the market again very soon.
Huevos con Nopales
When you want breakfast tacos but don't want to leave the comfort of your own home? Make these nopales and huevos and relish in the health benefits of the splurge of breakfast tacos. In fact, have two tacos.
- 1 cup nopales prepared and diced cactus leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1/4 cup red or yellow onion chopped
- 1/2 jalapeno or serrano diced, seeds and ribs removed
- 1/2 - 1 tomato diced, optional
- 4 farm fresh eggs beaten
- 2 tablespoons cilantro chopped
- 1/4 cup cheese grated, optional
- 4 corn tortillas homemade, if possible
In a heavy soup pot, bring 2 quarts of water to boil. Add 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, peeled garlic clove and nopales. Stir and cook for 15-20 minutes uncovered.
Drain in a colander and rinse several times to remove any sliminess that might remain (mine had no sliminess on them, and I was grateful). Set aside.
In a saute pan, add a little butter, Smart Balance or oil of your choice and place over medium high heat. When the oil/butter is bubbling, add the chopped onion and stir to coat. Sprinkle with a little salt and allow to cook for 2-3 minutes.
Add diced jalapeno or serrano pepper, stir well and cook for 1-2 minutes.
Add the chopped tomato and stir to combine cooking another 2-3 minutes.
Add 1 cup cooked nopales and stir to combine, cooking about 2 minutes.
Add a little more butter or oil and then add the beaten farm fresh eggs (notice the amazingly orange yolks of these eggs, which are unlike the pale yellow yolks of store-bought eggs).
You could add some cheese at this point, if you want. Cook until desired doneness, sprinkle with the remaining salt, fresh pepper and cilantro.
Serve on a hot, preferably homemade corn tortilla with a spoonful of red or green salsa--or both.