“So, what in the world do you do with nopales?” That was what we asked the first time we got prickly pear pads in our CSA share. Fortunately, that week’s CSA newsletter suggested Nopalitos con Papas as a starting point. We started with that and ran with it, hence y Más, and we hope that if you’re going to be making this dish, you’ll run with it, too. It’s a great dish with a huge amount of flexibility.
At its core, Nopalitos con Papas is simply home fries with prickly pear pads. That’s it. The y Más means that you can add more. It seems as though we make this dish a bit differently each time, depending on what’s in the fridge. Sometimes we add mushrooms, sometimes not. Sometimes peppers, sometimes not. Sometimes we have it as a side, sometimes not. Think of it as a free-form dish, and feel free to experiment with other additions, especially those that go well with home fries. We had ours as breakfast burritos, i.e. with eggs and wrapped in tortillas. What’s that, you say? What do prickly pear pads taste like?
We’ve heard them described as a lemony version of a cross between green beans and asparagus. We think that they are more like a cross between a lemon and a green pepper. Slightly tart, but good. Just as with green pepper, you probably wouldn’t want to have a bowl cooked up as a side dish.
Makes 6 burritos.
- 1 prickly pear pad, cleaned
- 4 medium red potatoes, diced
- 1/8 cup onion
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup milk
Don’t hold yourself to these proportions or these ingredients. The only thing to remember is that if you want the best eggs, it’s free range.
Prepare nopal. We get our nopales already cleaned and de-spined, which is a great boon. We’ve trimmed the prickly pears that grow in our yard and we know what it’s like to get the tiny spines (glochids) embedded in our skin. Ouch. Cut your nopal into bite-sized pieces.
Boil nopalitos. Put the pieces of nopal into a pan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and rinse several times under cold water. Set aside. This will help remove some of the mucilaginous quality from the nopalitos. They are like okra in that they can have a slimy texture if not prepared properly.
Fry potatoes. Start up your home fries. Heat oil in a skillet over medium, and, when hot, add the diced potatoes. Fry, stirring occasionally, until tender and browned.
Add onions. Now, stir in the onions and fry for a minute or two, until the onions are tender.
Add nopalitos. Stir in the nopalitos and fry until heated through, about 3-5 minutes.
Add eggs and milk. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk, and add to the Nopalitos con Papas y Más. Stir and fry until eggs are done. Season to taste.
Fill tortillas and serve.
We haven’t tried a lot of ways to make nopales other than this one. Once we hit on it, we pretty much stuck with it or some variation thereof, so it must be a five-star method.