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Pati's Mexican Table : TV Recipes

Pati Jinich

Tostadas de nopales
Serves 8

3 tablespoons safflower or corn oil
3 pounds fresh nopales, rinsed, cleaned and diced; or, if canned, rinsed thoroughly
1/2 pound ripe tomato, chopped
3 tablespoons white onion, chopped
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped, optional
1 jalapeño pepper, chopped, seeding optional
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lime juice
Salt to taste

For the tostadas:
8 corn tostadas
1 cup refried beans
Garnishes of your choice: queso fresco, Mexican crema, Mexican avocado, salsa…

To Clean Fresh Cactus Paddles:
Rinse fresh cactus paddles under cold water, being careful not to prick your fingers with the small thorns on its surface. Using a vegetable peeler or small sharp knife, peel away the darker bumps where thorns grow, as well as the thorns, trying not to peel off all the outer dark green skin. Lay the paddles flat on a chopping board, then trim around approximately 1/4 inch of the edges and 1/2 inch of the thick base. Once cleaned, rinse and dice into 1/2-to-1-inch squares, to your liking.

To Use Cactus From A Can, Bag or Jar:
After you have removed the diced cactus from the jar or can, rinse it under water and drain well.

To Cook the Cactus:
Heat two tablespoons of the oil in a thick, large-sized skillet (one that has a lid) over medium-high heat. Add the diced cactus, stir in the salt and stir for a minute or two. Place the lid on the skillet.

Reduce the heat to medium and let the cactus cook and sweat for about 20 minutes, until it has exuded a gelatinous liquid that will begin to dry out (NOTE: If using cactus from a can or jar, already cleaned and cooked, just cook for an additional five minutes).

Take the lid off the skillet, stir and make sure most of that gelatinous substance has dried up. If it hasn’t, let the cactus cook for a few more minutes until it does. Let the cactus cool slightly. In a mixing bowl, toss the cactus with the tomato, onion, jalapeño, cilantro, lime juice and salt. Like this, it can be eaten as a cactus paddle, nopal salad!

To Assemble the Tostadas:
Spread a layer of refried beans on each tostada. Spoon some the cooked cactus mixture on top, and add the garnishes of your choice. I add avocado slices, queso fresco, Mexican crema and salsa verde!


Hi! pati’s I love your show the food look so good, I will try the Coctus Paddle tastadas very health Love it,

Hola Mimi, Thank you for watching. I hope you enjoy the tostadas…careful with those cactus paddles!

I love your show and your delicious recipes. My husband is vegetarian and I especially enjoyed today’s episode. My question is this, is it okay to use prickly pear cactus I have growing in my landscape or do I need to buy some from the grocery store? We have several cactus plants that are organic, never treated w/ any chemicals, look healthy. I live in Texas and they grow every where here. I hate to buy things I already have and wondered if they would be okay?
I look forward to making these tostadas, as well as the zucchini soup! Thank you!

Hola Andi, I don’t see any reason you couldn’t use the prickly pear cactus growing in your yard, as long as you feel okay eating with it. Just be careful not cleaning it — they can be prickly!!

Thanks for the reply.
We actually found the napoles in a market and made them over the weekend. They were wonderful and even my children loved them! We also made the zucchini soup and it was a favorite, as well! Thanks for doing all you do!

I really impress with your program.Thanks for the recipes and share with us. Love it!!!! Blessings !!!! ♥

Thank you, Norma!!

Hi Pati!! I absolutely LOVE your show!! I cannot wait to try these beautiful tostadas!! I once bought a bag of fresh nopales in my favorite Mexican market. I thought they were chopped green peppers!! I had no clue as to what to do with them. NOW I have this beautiful recipe. We will be enjoying these tomorrow!! Keep up the wonderful work and we would be so appreciative of more vegetarian recipes…thanks Pati!!! DebraS

Hi Debra, Thank you so much for watching the show!! There will be a whole chapter dedicated to vegetarian recipes in my cookbook. I hope you’ll look into it! All the best to you.

Made those FABULOUS Tostadas last night…my husband was thrilled!! Thanks Pati!! I have pre-ordered your cookbook through Amazon…..can’t wait for it!!!!

Mi esposo y yo vemos su programa los Sabados en la noche y lo que nos gusta de su progama es que sus recetas son faciles y sabrosas,espero tenga recetas de pescados y mas recetas vegetarianas,hoy voy a preparar las tostadas de nopales espero me salgan como a usted,Muchas gracias Paty.Cinceramente Sarita

Gracias Sarita,
Espero que les hallan gustado las tostadas de Nopales. Si tienen algún request en especial, déjenme saber!

Hola Pati,que ricas recetas y lo mejor de todo es que no son nada complicadas,gracias por la oportunidad de deleitarnos con nuestros platillos mexicanos,un favor quisiera pedirle la receta de las tostadas de nopal pues comense un libro con sus exelentes recetas y no se en que parte puse la receta, la puede poner otra ves en la compu?quiero desirle que la barbacoa de cordero es esquisita.Mi espposo y yo nos encanta ver su programa y nos deleita de ver como prepara todo.Mil gracias otra ves por sus delicias.Cinceramente Sarita y Ernesto

Hi Pati,just read the cactus paddles receipe and I have one question. The receipe calls for five additional minutes of cooking if using canned cactus. Do you mean to cook for five minutes or 25 minutes? Love your show I’m glad to see authentic Mexican Dishes.



Thanks Liz! If you are using canned cactus you cook it 5, not 25. Hope you like that dish…

Hola, Paty!!! Gracias por la receta con nopales, pronto la voy a preparar, aver como me queda. Paty, podrias enviarme la receta para hacer salsa verde? Te lo voy a agradecer mucho.

Saludos, Mauricio.

Pati, I have been making nopal salad for many years. I have always boiled homegrown cactus with salt, pepper, garlic & onion. Drain liquid and rinse with cold water immediately. Is there a reason why you cook the cactus with oil instead? Thank you for the truly Mexican style recipes…

Hola Isabel, There are many ways to cook cactus paddles and boiling them is perfectly good one! I like to sear them because you don’t have to drain and rinse them many times & it gives them a nice seared flavor. Here is a more detailed explanation:

Hi Pati, I have a Cactus tree on the side of my home. How do I know which ones are best to pick to cook with? Also, are the ones that flower not good to pick at all? I really enjoy Mexican Food cause it is always fresh and good to eat. Thank you.

Eat the fruit too! How lucky you are. The tender pods are the best ones… Some people say before they bear fruit, but some people eat them after too. Your best bet is to cut different ones at different times and eat them: test the character of your cactus plant yourself… and let me know how it goes!

thanks for your response Pati. I wonder if you have any recipes for for cactus flower? I was hoping I could send a picture of what the cactus tree looks like so you can help me better.

Pati, Our family just recently moved to Texas. My husband (who lived in South Texas for a couple years) came home from the grocery store last week with some cactus paddles. “Why don’t you try using these?” he says. Did I mention I’m a little white girl from the north? So I came across your recipe and I loved it and the nopales! Thanks for the good instructions and the yummy recipe. I’ll be using it again soon.

Hola Emily, Glad to hear! Thank you for trying my recipe!!

I saw your show recently. Because of your excellent directions, and visuals, I now make this salad once a week.My wife really likes it as well. I live in Los Angeles, and even though there are lots of Mexican restaurants, most do not make this salad. In fact, most of them do not make any of your terrific recipes.

Mike, Sooo thrilled to hear you’re cooking nopales! I’ve noticed that in the LA too, but they are everywhere in Mexico!

I love Insalada de Nopal. Is the Nopal mixture you use for the Tostadas de Nopal the same as the Insalada de Nopal. If not do you have the recipe on your website? By the way love your program.

Irene O’Dell

Another winner! Thank you for the recipe it was a big hit!!

Do you eat this with a knife and fork or is it best using ones fingers?

We pick it up at our house! =)

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