Today I planted some starts for Prickly Pear Cactus. If you like any Mexican dishes made with Nopales, this is the cactus that it comes from. Oops… did you not know that you were eating cactus? Well, now you do.
I’ve always wanted to grow one of my own, and The Brother-In-Law had paddles falling off his big ol’ cactus in his back yard that were already starting to set down roots. The last time we came up to visit family he went out and shoved at least ten starts into a paper bag for me to tackle eventually… three weeks later I am finally setting them in the ground. I think I transplanted some of the ants from his back yard, too.
All I did to prepare the ground was to dig out a few invasive ice plants and loosen the dirt where the paddles would sit. They break off the main plant, fall to the ground and take root all on their own, so this is a pretty easy project, really. My Fine Cactus Benefactor said to just keep the ground watered until they take root, and I will water them every few days for about a week.
Half an hour later I had three patches of cactus! I wonder how long it will take before I’m slicing off my own new paddles, cursing the spines I missed, and preparing my own Nopales Con Chile Colorado? Nopales, when simply cooked, taste like a mild green vegetable- I’ve always thought of it as a cross between asparagus and a green bean. They are quite mucilaginous, like okra, and I was taught to parboil them once or twice to get rid of this sliminess. Works like a charm. They can also be frozen after this parboiling. Remember the Mom-In-Law and her recipe for Enchiladas from an earlier post? Well, she also taught me how to make Nopales with Chile Colorado, and I’ll share that recipe… eventually. Maybe when I pick my own!