Vegetarians, unite! How do you feel about cacti? Not a cactus to use as decoration, nope, it’s a cactus to eat! Since you might not have cooked with nopales before, we wanted to tell you a little bit more about how to prepare it for eating. Soon you’ll be making the vegetarian tacos of your dreams.

What are nopales?

Nopales are the edible, fleshy pads of the prickly pear cactus. They’re harvested shortly after rains when they’re plump, juicy and full of nutrients. Like most cacti, these pads have spines that need to be carefully removed and discarded. Nopales are a popular ingredient in traditional Mexican cuisine. Their dense texture makes them a satisfying meat substitute.

How to prep nopales

Using a large knife, carefully shave the spikes off the nopales. If you want to be extra cautious, try wearing a pair of gloves. Then, trim off the tough outer edges of each nopal and rinse under cool water to wash away any remaining blemishes. Slice each one into ¼-inch-thick and 1-inch-wide pieces.

Vegetarian tacos with nopales

vegetarian tacos
Vegetarian tacos with crispy fried nopales

Our recipe coats the nopales in panko breadcrumbs and fries them lightly. After they’re done, pair them with fresh carrots and tangy cotija cheese for satisfying and balanced vegetarian tacos. Get our decadent recipe here.