We have an opuntia cactus (prickly pear) plant in the garden, and we harvest the paddles (nopales) to make this pickled dish. You can buy pre-trimmed, cut nopal in many supermarkets if you do not have access to the fresh variety. This is a spicy condiment that goes great with burritos or other Mexican dishes. It is also wonderful on veggie burgers.
Makes about 2-3 cups.
- 4-5 large cactus pads
- 1 Tbsp coarse salt
- 1 fresh jalapeño pepper
- 1 (10 oz) bottle sweet red pepper strips
- 2/3 c water
- 1/3 c apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 c sugar
- 1 tsp paprika
- Wash cactus pads in colander, but do not handle. (The fine needle-like thorns can easily embed themselves in your fingers. If they do, use duct tape to pull them out.)
- Hold tightly where there are no thorns. Use a sharp knife to remove thorns. Cut off thorny edges. Peel surfaces. Cut into small strips. (You should have 2-3 cups of cactus strips.)
- Add coarse salt to nopales and toss. Allow to stand 30 minutes. Drain well but do not rinse salt residue off. Place in heat-proof quart-sized bottle or bowl.
- Add drained red pepper strips to the nopales. Slice jalapeño in 1/8 inch circles and add to other veggies.
- In small saucepan, heat remaining ingredients until they come to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 2 minutes.
- Pour hot liquid over the veggies. Stir and cool. Tightly cover and refrigerate for 2 or more days. Use within a week.