Nopales or nopalitos are the leaves or pads of the opuntia or prickly pear cactus and are very popular throughout Mexico. They have a tart taste with a texture rather like string beans and are used in stews, soups, salads, and with eggs. In New Mexico as well as in Mexico, they are sold fresh, spines removed, and peeled. They are then diced or cut in strips, simmered in salted water until tender, and then drained and rinsed. This is an important step as they can be “slippery” like okra. If you can’t find them fresh, they are readily available in jars or cans.
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