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Mains, Quick and Easy, Soups

Guisado de nopales (stewed cactus paddles)

Guisado de nopales (stewed cactus paddles)
Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

Prickly desert cactus sounds like the last thing you'd want to eat. But -- surprise! -- once the spines are off, cactus is juicy and tender, great in anything from salads and soups to main courses and even desserts. The ... Read more

Total time: 50 minutes | Serves 4 to 6
  • 1 pound nopales (cactus paddles)
  • 1 pound plum tomatoes
  • 1/4 medium onion
  • 1/2 cup water, divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large sprig epazote
  • 2 teaspoons chicken stock base
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste

Step 1Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Trim, clean and wash the cactus. Cut each paddle into half-inch squares. Drop the cactus pieces into the boiling water and cook for 5 minutes. Drain.

Step 2Trim the stem ends of the tomatoes and cut the tomatoes into quarters. Place them in a blender container with the onion and one-fourth cup water. Blend thoroughly.

Step 3Heat the olive oil in a saucepan. Add the tomato mixture, epazote, chicken base and salt. Bring to a boil and simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes.

Step 4Add the cactus squares and the remaining one-fourth cup water. Bring to a boil and simmer gently, uncovered, 5 minutes. If the sauce becomes too thick, thin with a little water.

Note: From Inelva Carrasco Espinosa of Oaxaca.

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