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What are Mexican nopales?

 

One of the best things about cooking is that the amount of ingredients is almost infinite. You don’t have to stick to the foods you know, in fact, the more you experiment with exotic and foreign flavors the more exquisite your recipes will end up being. And when it comes to international cuisine, we can’t deny that Mexican food has many wonders to offer. This amazing ingredient is the pad taken from the nopal cactus and it’s widely grown all over Mexico. This popular vegetable is used all over the country in different types of meals that range from salads to smoothies. Keep reading to find out more about this exotic food.

 

Benefits of nopales

Nopales are known for being amazing at lowering blood sugar levels, reducing cholesterol and even healing wounds on the skin. Nopales also have great antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which is why people look for this ingredient to soothe stomach aches, boost the immune system naturally and treat several conditions like glaucoma, wounds, fatigue, liver conditions and even ulcers. Nopal is filled with fiber, which makes them a great ingredient for salads and healthy meals. With all these benefits for your health and even for your appearance, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be trying nopales in your meals and drinks. We should talk about the texture of nopales before you get excited, though...

 

How to cook nopales

When you pick a nopal right out of its plant, it’s filled with thorns from head to toe (that’s why it’s also called a prickly pear-. A nopal is flat and oval-shaped with a crunchy and dry texture, so the first thing you need to do before eating them is to remove the thorns. Once you’ve done this there are two different ways in which you can prepare nopales and get them ready to eat, because they cannot be eaten raw. You can chop them and boil them with a bit of salt, or you can put them on a grill to cook for a few minutes. Once a nopal is boiled, it will create a thick layer of slime”, which can be a bit confusing and even unpleasant for some. If you learn how to see beyond this slime, nopal actually has a great, earthy flavor.

 

Recipes with nopales

Now that you know the first step to cook nopales, there are plenty of delicious ways to incorporate them into recipes. Nopales made the classic way are cooked on a pan along with chopped onion, chopped tomato, garlic and cilantro, first frying the onion and the tomato. You can also grill a nopal without slicing it and then pour some cheese over it to melt deliciously. Nopales can also be cooked along with different types of meat to add some exotic flavor to stews, and you can even mix them with pineapple and cilantro to make the best green smoothie ever.

 

Nopales are a real green gem that could change the way you make meals forever. Now that you know how to prepare it and some of its main benefits, start thinking of ways to incorporate it into your meals!