One of the reasons I started #VeganViernes was to introduce people to creative substitutes for meat, such as the prickly pear cactus, known as nopales. This cactus is a staple in the diets of many indigenous peoples of the southwestern United States and Mexico.
You can find these cactus paddles at any Mexican market in the produce aisle and some specialty grocery stores have them pre-sliced or canned. I shop at H-E-B often and my grocery shopping habit is to always pick up a new ingredient I’ve never cooked or something I want to practice with. I happened to see a bag of fresh nopales already cut and sliced so that was my item-of-the-day.
To me, they taste like a cross between a green bean and okra with a nice crunch to them. Also, they’re a bit mucilaginous and slightly sour in taste.
For this, I used what I had left in the fridge for vegetables and added the nopales with a simple homemade taco seasoning.
Ingredients (serves 4):
Heat cast-iron skillet on medium-high and add a tbsp of your choice of oil. Add nopales and season with about 1/2 of the seasoning. Sautee nopales until they are charred to your liking. Remove the cooked nopales and set aside on a plate. You will reuse the same skillet or you can use a new one.
Next, cook the bell peppers and sautee until about half way done and then add the onions. Use the rest of the seasoning on this skillet. Add the mushrooms at the end until all three ingredients are charred to your liking.
Now you have your taco filling with yummy nopal. Toast your tortillas the way you normally do. I toast them over the gas stove for about 5 seconds each side.
Fill the tortillas with all of the vegetables. Add sliced avocado, lemon juice, cilantro, red onion or any type of salsa. Salsa verde is amazing with this.