2000s Recipes + Menus

Grilled Cactus Paddles (Nopales Asados)

Makes enough for 24 taquitos or serves 12 (side dish)
  • Active time:20 min
  • Start to finish:20 min
June 2009
Cactus paddles (nopales or nopalitos) are an important vegetable in Mexico, particularly in the central and west-central parts of the country. Their flavor—reminiscent of summer’s green beans but with a hint of acidity—adds freshness and succulence to the taquitos.
  • 12 cactus paddles (nopales or nopalitos)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Prepare grill for direct-heat cooking over medium-hot charcoal (medium heat for gas); see “Grilling Procedure.”
  • Meanwhile, hold each cactus paddle by the stem with a kitchen towel and scrape off any thorns with a sharp knife. Rinse and dry paddles. Brush paddles with oil and grill in 2 batches, covered only if using a gas grill, turning occasionally, until softened and lightly charred, 3 to 6 minutes.
  • Trim off about 1 inch of hard stems from 8 paddles, then cut paddles crosswise into 1/4-inch-wide strips and season with salt (preferably coarse). Make 5 lengthwise cuts in each whole paddle, almost to stem, so paddles resemble “hands.”
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