Not too long ago, I was presented with a challenge.
As a way of helping you to meet your daily cactus requirements, I have successfully transformed these crazy looking spiny paddles, leaves, or “nopales” into a delicious and completely refreshing salad, with shrimp! So refreshing, in fact, you’ll swear you’re living in coastal Mexico.
Cactus paddles are available in Latin or Mexican markets, but surprisingly, are also abundantly available in simple supermarkets in my neck of the woods.
Shrimp Nopales (Cactus Paddle) Salad
4 large cactus paddles (leaves or “nopales”)
1 1/2 lb. cooked jumbo shrimp
juice of 1 lime
1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/3 cup fresh feta cheese, crumbled
Using a sharp pairing knife, scrape the sides of each paddle to remove the spiny eyes and prickers.
Once all prickers are seemingly removed, rinse under cool water ~ the paddles will be slimy…think okra or aloe. Then, gently slide hands and fingers over all surfaces to ensure the prickers have all been removed. It may be uncomfortable to stab yourself in the finger during this process, but the alternative of discovering a pricker on your tongue seems less desirable, in my humble opinion.
Once all surfaces are smooth, chop the paddles into 1″ cubes or rectangles.
Blanch in boiling water for approximately 4 minutes. Unfortunately, the bright green color will diminish into an overcooked green bean hue ~ but that’s life.
Immediately remove from heat and transfer to an ice bath to chill.
Drain and combine with the remaining ingredients.
It’s amazing. Truly amazing on a hot summer day, especially when paired with a gorgeous Viognier.
I know, I know…a margarita may be more suitable for some. But for this little princess, I prefer to spend my time passing the vine.