Put an exotic touch on your scrambled eggs by adding nopales or edible cactus! Nopales con huevos or cactus paddles with eggs is a perfect dish for breakfast or lunch.
Is Cactus Edible
The simple answer is yes! While not all species of cactus are edible, the ones you see at the Mexican mercados and grocery stores are of course perfectly safe to eat.
What do Nopales Cactus Taste Like
Ah the most popular question regarding nopales! When raw this vibrant green vegetable has a crunch or rather crispness to it’s texture. The taste of nopales is a light lemonyness with touches of herbs and also similar to raw green beans…the truth is that the smell and taste of nopales cactus is quite unique.
Trust me if you’ve never tasted nopales you really must and I guaranteed if prepared correctly, you’ll fall in love with them. They are one of my most favorite vegetables and I eat them quite often.
Where to Buy Nopales Cactus Paddles
You can buy nopales in Mexican supermarkets, mercados or Hispanic stores. Some farmer’s markets may carry them as well as some non-ethnic grocery stores. If you’re very lucky each place will have at least a couple of options for them too.
In the produce aisle, there’ll be fresh whole paddles both with and without the thorns. There may also be bags or a pile of them already cleaned, prepped and sliced or cubed — so ready to cook after a quick rinse!
(NEVER buy nopales from other sources and certainly NEVER go and harvest wild nopales unless you 100% know what you’re doing! Remember not all cactus species are edible.)
What if Fresh Nopales Aren’t Available
If you can’t find fresh nopales you can also check for jars. They come “pickled” and are in the same grocery aisle as canned vegetables. These are fine to use too but you definitely need to drain them and give them a couple of rinses to remove the viscous liquid, before using.
In Mexico we also have nopales in brine which are sold in the cold section of the produce section. These too you need to drain and rinse a couple of times before using.
Another option is frozen nopales. Some Mexican stores carry these and they too are a good alternative to fresh nopales. You don’t need to defrost or rinse before using, just toss them into your pan.
How to Safely Clean and Prepare Nopales Paddles (cactus)
Grocery stores and mercados will clean and prep the nopales for you. But if you want to you can certainly remove the thorns yourself. It’s not that difficult to do!
In fact if you want to buy fresh nopales paddles with the thorns they will actually last longer in your fridge than buying prepped and clean cactus.
Watch the video below to see how to remove the thorns from nopales.
How to Cook Cactus with Scrambled Eggs
The recipe is very easy and best of all it doesn’t take a lot of time — especially if you buy the nopales already cleaned and cubed!
Some people simply use eggs, nopales, and onion. As you can see I like to add the trinity of Mexican cooking ingredients: onion, chile, and tomatoes!
Huevos con Nopales or Scrambled Eggs with Cactus Paddles
- 2 cups of prepped and cubed nopales
- ½ a small white onion about little more than ¼ cup, chopped
- 2 large cloves of garlic roughly chopped
- 2 Roma tomatoes chopped
- roughly chopped serrano pepper to taste
- salt to taste
- 1.5 Tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
- 4 medium to large eggs or as desired
- In a large pan heat the oil then add the onion and saute until softened. Next, add the serrano and saute for 3 minutes while stirring constantly. Next, add the nopales and garlic and the salt (I used about ½ a teaspoon), and mix until well combined. Saute until the nopales have softened and released all of their viscous liquid, continue to cook until that liquid cooks off. Then add the tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes. Stir to prevent burning. Then add the eggs and cook until the eggs are cooked to your desired texture.
- Serve with warm tortillas on the side and if desired some refried beans, your favorite salsa, and avocado slices. You could also use it as a stuffing for gorditas or to make breakfast burritos. Enjoy!
How to Make This Recipe Vegan
To make the nopales con huevo vegan simply swap out the eggs for VeganEgg, or tofu, or even chickpea vegan egg scramble.
How to Eat and Serve Huevos con Nopales
This dish makes a hearty and healthy breakfast any day of the week. But it’s also great for lunch too!
You can make tacos or if you’d like this can also be delicious vegetarian breakfast burrito filling. Or it can be used to stuff breakfast gorditas. There are many possibilities!
How ever you choose to eat this delicious, nutritious vegetarian, just remember to enjoy!!