Mariquita Farm


fresh nopal

fresh nopal pads, spines removed, sliced

grilled nopales

nopales on the grill ** more photos below

tuna, also called prickly pear cactustunas, or prickly
pear fruits

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Fresh Nopal Storage: Once you have the nopal pads de-spined and ready to slice and cook, keep in bag in fridge. They likely will keep for 1-3 days, but using them within 2 days is recommended.

Where to get nopalitos? We can find freshly harvested and peeled (nice!) pads from our local Mexican grocery stores here in central California. You might have prickly pear cactus growing in your yard, or have Mexican groceries near you. They are also availabe in jars in some stores.

Nopalitos con Huevos from Julia

Peeled and diced fresh nopalitos
Chopped Onion
vegetable oil
eggs, scrambled with a fork and ready to cook
S & P to taste

to serve: tortillas, salsa, cilantro

Cook onion in vegetable oil until soft. Add diced nopalitos and cook until tender. Add eggs and cook until you think they are ready to eat. Serve with tortillas, salsa, and cilantro if you have it.

The Cactus Cookbook: I have a 1978 edition compiled by Joyce L. Tate for the Cactus and Succulent Society. It's from from my grandma Aileen. Some recipes are Mexican such as: Ensalada de Nopalitos and Huevos Rancheros con Nopalitos. But most read like Betty Crocker in 1963: Cactus Pear Pudding Squares, Nopalitos Cheese Potato Casserole, Sweet Pickled Opuntia Fruits, Prickly Pear Beer, Cactus Fruit Nut Bread, Prickly Pear Salad Ring.

Joshua Punch
adapted from The Cactus Cookbook

1 cactus pear
3 ounces vodka
3 ounces grapefruit juice
squeeze lime
dash grenadine
1 cup finely cracked ice

Cut up peeled prickly pear (tuna) and place in blender with rest of ingredients. Cover and blend on high speed for 10 seconds. May add a bit of sugar if desired. Can be served 'on the rocks' if desired.

Nopales Mexicali
adapted from the Cactus Cook Book by Joyce Tate recipe by Louise Anderson of the California Mojave Desert Cactus Club

1 cup peeled and diced fresh nopalitos (young prickly pear cactus paddles)
1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh jalapeno, finely chopped
Salt to taste

Cook nopalitos in salted boiling water until tender. Drain and mix gently with the remaining ingredients. Serves 4.

Nopalito Salad
this is an approximation for the pictured salad (photo below).

1 pound peeled, chopped cactus pads, boiled about 15 minutes, rinsed, drained
2-3 carrots, thinly sliced into rounds (I use a mandoline for this)
1 white onion, thinly sliced and then cut or chopped into 1 inch segments
1 bunch fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
1-2 jalapeno chiles, chopped in fine dice
2-3 cups thinly sliced cabbage
Juice from 2-3 limes
Salt to taste

Gently mix all ingredients together... let rest for about an hour, then serve as a salad or on tostadas.

Salad of Nopales and Cracked Wheat
adapted from Uncommon Fruits and Vegetables by Elizabeth Schneider 6-8 servings

1 1/2 cups bulgur or cracked wheat
5 cups boiling water
3/4 pound young tender nopales, peeled
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt or to taste
1/4 cup good extra virgin olive oil
1 small red onion, coarsley diced (about 3/4 cup)
1 fresh poblano or other mildly spicy pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped

Combine cracked wheat and boiling water in a bowl; let stand until wheat is no longer crunchy in the center, about 1/2 hour. Drain in colander lined with cheesecloth (or a clean tea towel), then squeeze as much of the water out as possible. Dry wheat on a towel, tossing. Place nopales on a steamer rack over boiling water; cover and cook until barely tnder throughout - about 4 minutes. Let cool entirely. Cut in strips 1/4 inch wide. Combine lemon juice, salt, and olive oil, blend. Toss with nopales, chile pepper, and onion. Combine with cracked wheat and cilantro and mix well. Serve chilled or at room temp.

Nopales Tacos
adapted by Jonathan Miller from La Parilla by R. Hearon

olive oil
1/2 c pumpkin seeds
1 roma tomato
1 thick slice white onion
1 tomatillo, husked
2 jalepenos
1 garlic clove, unpeeled
3 T cilantro, chopped
mexican oregano
4 nopales
corn tortillas

In a small skillet, heat a few drops of olive oil and add the pumpkin seeds. Pan roast, stirring regularly, until the seeds turn golden brown and begin to pop. Remove from heat. Heat a comal or other heavy, dry skillet. Put the tomato, onion, tomatillo, jalepenos, and garlic in the comal and blister them all, turning as necessary. Make sure they get deeply colored. Remove from heat. Put the seeds, tomato, onion, and tomatillo into a food processor and process until smooth. Add the jalepenos, garlic, and process again. Add a little water, up to 1/2 cup depending on how thin you like your salsa, while processing again. Remove from processor and stir in the cilantro, oregano, and some salt. Taste for seasoning, adjusting salt as necessary. Brush the nopales with olive oil and generously season them with salt and pepper. Grill over a medium fire until soft and browned, about 4 minutes per side if the fire is medium to medium low. Remove and cool slightly. Chop the nopales; heat some tortillas on the comal, then fill with some grilled nopales, topped with salsa. Serve warm.

Black Beans and Nopales
adapted by Jonathan Miller from La Parilla by R. Hearon

1 white onion
4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 tomato
2 c black beans
corn oil
2 chipotle chiles
2 c diced nopales
fresh epazote leaves

Peel and slice the onion into thick slices. Heat a comal or other heavy, dry skillet and add the onion, garlic cloves, and tomato. Pan roast the veggies until deeply colored, turning as necessary. When done, peel the garlic and puree the veggies in a blender until smooth. Put the beans, onion puree, and 6 cups of water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover, and simmer until just softened, about 45 minutes. Fry the chipotle chiles in a little corn oil until just puffed, about 10 seconds. Drain and add to the beans with some salt, the diced nopales, and a small handful of fresh epazote. Continue to cook until the beans are really soft, another 30 minutes or so. You are looking for a really brothy, souplike mixture. Remove the chipotles if you like, check for seasoning and serve hot.

Shrimp and Nopales in Banana Leaves
adapted by Jonathan Miller from La Parilla by R. Hearon

3 c diced nopales
1 small white onion, diced
1 c adobo, homemade preferred
1 lb shrimp, peeled, deveined, and halved lengthwise
4 squares of banana leaves, 15 inch
fresh epazote
2 avocados, sliced

Blanch the nopales and onion for about 3 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water, and allow to cool. Add the adobo and shrimp, tossing well to coat. Divide the shrimp mixture among the four banana leave squares, top each with a couple fresh epazote leaves, and fold into a small package. Wrap each package in foil, then grill the bundles, covered, until cooked through, about 20 minutes. Remove from foil and serve on the banana leaves. Use warmed tortillas if you prefer.

Cactus Paddle Salad from Yummily: it's similar to the one pictured above, just add sliced carrots instead of the radishes!

nopales field

field of nopalitos and tunas

tuna or prickly pear fruit

tuna, also called prickly pear fruit

nopal salad

nopal salad

tuna, also called prickly pear fruit

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