Snacking on Spring Cactus Pads
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
We tried our hand at foraging for wild foods last summer. Our success stories were mesquite and prickly pear fruit. While reading about those I realized that other parts of the cactus such as the young pads (nopales / nopalitos) are quite popular in some parts of the world.
Gathering / Cleaning
Yesterday, I watched a handful of youtube videos then went to the park to score a few nopalitos. Within minutes I had gathered 5 lbs of pads using only a pair of tongs. Much like the prickly pear fruit I just burned the stickers off over the stove flame and dipped them in boiling water to wash away the remains and soften up the glochids. The young spines come right off with a knife. I finally went over the nearly smooth pad with a old sponge to try and pickup any remaining stickers.
Lots of options for cooking the pads. I'm partial to the idea of coating them with olive oil and grilling them. I didn't have a grill handy so I went with frying them in a pan with a bit of bacon grease and they came out quite edible. A little snotty for the texture oriented. The pads can also be baked.