Cooking With Cactus: 6 Dishes For An Adventurous Feast
Image Credit: Cactus Plants with Nopales and Prickly Pears | Freepik

Cactus is a peculiar food ingredient, but believe it or not, it can be the tastiest you've ever tried. The bulby leaves of cactus are filled with juicy pulp, which has numerous medicinal properties and also tastes surprisingly good.

Cactus is one of the most hydrating succulents that can thrive well in the blazing heat of the desert. It is eaten as a food constituent in several parts of the world, including India, Mexico, South America, Africa, and the Middle East.

The slimy centre of cactus has a grassy flavour that varies depending on what part you're eating. The Nopales, or cactus pads, taste slightly tangy, quite like okra, and the Prickly Pear, or cactus fruits, have a slightly sweet flavour like pears.

Several varieties of cactus are edible and don't have any poisonous elements. And cactus varieties can differ from region to region. Still, all recipes made with it taste amazing and are cooked in numerous ways. Discover these delectable dishes made with cactus and try them at least once.

These 6 Cactus Dishes Are To Die For

1) Cactus Sabzi

Image Credit: Cactus Sabzi by Chef Kunal Kapoor

Cactus Sabzi, or stir-fried cactus, is a rare Indian dish whose taste can be compared to bhindi or okra sabzi. Both the cactus and okra have a similar slimy texture that binds well with the spices and other ingredients. The bulby cactus pads are chosen that are slightly tender so they can be cooked easily. Before cooking, scrape all the thorns well so they won't end up in the dish. It is very nutritious and flavourful.

2) Mexican Nopalitos Tacos

Image Credit: Negativespace

Mexican Nopalitos Tacos are a popular dish made by sauteing cactus pads with onion, garlic, regional spices, beans, cheese, and salsa. These sauteed cactus pads are then used as a filling for tacos, creating a wholesome dish. This recipe often uses meat and chilli con carne. It is perfect for any occasion and will be the star of your table.

3) Prickly Pear Jam

A prickly pair of cacti can form delightful jams filled with the sweet notes of the succulent bulbs. First, the bulby fruits are scraped with a knife to remove the thorns. After that, they are boiled in water along with sugar and lemon juice. They are constantly stirred to create a thick spread. This spread can be used with bread, as a side dish, or as a filling for sweet dough balls.

4) Nopal Salad

Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons

Nopal Salad is a satisfying salad made with succulent cactus pads. To make this salad, you can use a variety of vegetables like tomatoes, onions, lettuce, and cilantro, along with fresh herbs and spices. Just toss all the ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate it so the flavours get melded together. You can serve it as a side dish for your main course, and it will make the feast adventurous and enjoyable.

5) Nopalitos Soup

Image Credit: Freepik

Cactus makes a wonderful ingredient as a soup. The slimy pulp of cactus makes the soup thicker and immerses it with flavours. You can eat this soup even in the Lent season. The tender pieces of cactus give a satisfying bite with every spoonful and delight the taste buds. You can also add egg to the recipe, which is a protein supplement.

6) Grilled Nopales

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Grilled Cactus leaves can be a fun addition to barbeque. These leaves derive a thick and meaty texture while grilling, which is why they are also called “green steak.” This additionally makes them a vegan-friendly delight. They are extremely easy to make and taste a little grassy. They also pair well with a variety of dips, like hot sauce and Cajun dips.

These unique recipes with cactus leaves are an adventurous feast that tastes extremely flavourful. Thanks to those who dared to try this succulent for the first time, humankind discovered the beauty of these prickly succulents and brought them to the plate.