Chef Rick Bayless is a world renowned specialist in Mexican cuisine. Here is one of his phenomenal recipes using cactus....
See more of how to make Prickly Pear Syrup:
Makes 3 pints of syrup.
By Eun Jae Park
The nopal cactus is a staple food that has existed in the native Meso-American diet for more than 12,000 years, and it offers a nutritious supplement to many traditional Mexican dishes. Although there are over 200 edible varieties of the nopal cactus, the broad-leafed vegetable pads of the Opuntia ficus-indica species are most utilized in Mexican cuisine. Nopal cactus pads can be served raw, stir-fried, dried, or pickled and are commonly prepared as side dishes, salads, taco fillings, or omelets. Slimy, citrusy, and slightly sweet, nopal is a unique vegetable that can be an acquired taste.
In addition, nopal has been extensively studied for its potential health benefits. According to studies conducted by University of California, Los Angeles, nopal is effective in reducing LDL cholesterol—the “bad” cholesterol—and regulating blood sugar for diabetic patients. In addition, 15 percent of nopal’s weight is fiber, making it a great food to manage gastrointestinal tract movement.
Often referred to as “prickly pears” in the United States, nopal pads are being cultivated in Mexico and border-states such as California and Arizona for commercial export. Farmers, chefs, medical researchers, and consumers are recognizing the benefits of nopal and demand has tremendously increased in recent years. The cactus industry in Mexico alone is worth $150 million and employs 10,000 workers.
Read more about the health benefits of nopal cactus.
Prickly Pear, or Cactus Pear fruit, is a fruit of the Cactaceae (Cactus) family that is commonly used in Southern America, Mexico, and Spain as an edible plant.
It seems to show benefit in usage against the state of diabetes and high blood cholesterol.
Nopal Cactus stew
John's Nopales Cactus Stew
Stew meat... beef or pork or local favorite
1/2 to one pound of nopales cactus prepared and diced
a can of sweet corn (or fresh if available)
two, three or four pickled or fresh jalapeno peppers (or to taste)
three cloves or more (to taste) of garlic
one to four medium onions
one half bunch of cilantro (or more is better)
a tender squash or three
quarter cup of olive oil
couple dashes of salt and some ground black pepper will add flavor
Cooked and hot Rice or barley to serve the nopales over
Brown the meat in olive or vegetable oil, you can add bacon strips if you like more fat...
Add some water and let the meat simmer covered for an hour,
then add one diced onion, and the sliced carrots and let simmer for another hour
Add in the corn, peppers, cilantro and other spices.... and simmer for half an hour....
add in the edible cactus and squash and let it simmer for thirty minutes,
then remove from the heat and serve hot over hot rice or barley.
During clinical trials Nopal was found to have a positive effect on lowering cholesterol.
Prickly pear cactus juice benefits:
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||0.09 g||<1%|
|Dietary Fiber||2.2 g||5.5%|
|Pantothenic acid||0.167 mg||3%|
|Vitamin C||9.3 mg||15.5%|
|Vitamin A||457 IU||15%|
|Vitamin E||0.00 mg||0%|
|Vitamin K||5.3 µg||4.4%|