All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013
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OK – so – I bought these cactus paddle things because I see them everywhere & I decided I needed to get to the bottom of it. If you do not live in a part of the country with a large Hispanic population and you cannot find fresh cactus, you can used jarred cactus – or nopales/nopalitos. The ones I bought were already prepared – meaning – the thorns had been trimmed as had the rim. If you find fresh ones & need to prepare them – there are lots of tutorials HERE. It is not difficult so do not be intimidated.
I wasn’t sure what the heck to do with these guys so I both grilled AND breaded & baked them. You might want to use them having only been grilled or only breaded and baked. Your call. There is so much going on in these tacos – I don’t think it matters much. I used crushed corn flakes & taco seasoning to bread them simply because that was what I had around. Panko or other bread crumbs would work, too, and if you don’t have a packet of taco seasoning (I have NO IDEA where the one in my pantry came from) – spice up your crumb mix with a little onion & garlic powders & maybe some chipotle or other chili powder. I made a little avocado cream sauce for these, primarily because my avocados were not as ripe as is ideal. You can just cut up fresh avocado on yours or make a traditional guacamole.
Crispy Grilled & Baked Cactus (Nopalitos) Tacos with Corn & Black Bean Salsa & Avocado Cream
This makes a lotta tacos. 🙂
The Spicy Grilled Corn & Black Bean Salsa is HERE.
For the Avocado Cream
4 TBS Mexican crema (or sour cream)
1 TBS mayonnaise
juice of 1/2 lime
1 tsp fresh dill (optional) – or cilantro
1/4 tsp each: onion & garlic powders
S&P to taste
For the Crispy Grilled & Baked Cactus (Nopalitos) Tacos
Several cactus paddles or some jarred cactus strips
2 (or more) eggs
1/8 – 1/4 cup hot sauce
2 TBS taco seasoning (or a blend of onion powder, garlic powder & chili powder)
1 cup (or more) bread crumbs or panko (I used crushed corn flakes)
Extra cilantro & limes for garnish
For the avocado cream
Puree all the ingredients in a food processor.
Crispy Grilled & Baked Cactus (Nopalitos) Tacos
Prepare the cactus paddles if they are not already cleaned. There are lots of tutorials HERE.
Drag the cactus through the eggs & then the breadcrumb mix & place on a cooking sheet treated with cooking spray. Cook at 375 for about ten minutes, flip them & bake another ten minutes. It might take a little more or a little less time for you to get them crispy – depending on the size of the strips & how densely they are breaded. Watch them carefully.
Now you just assemble your tacos. Warm your tortillas (I do this directly on the stove burners – being careful not to burn them). Top them with cactus, salsa, avocado cream, queso & cilantro. Squeeze a little lime on there & shove’m down your gullet washed down with a cold cerveza.