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Cactus Pads / Nopalitos (1976)

May 19, 2014
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Make Mine Menudo: Chicano Cook Book (1976) by Ella Toy López. UTSA Libraries Special Collections.

Make Mine Menudo: Chicano Cook Book (1976) by Ella Toy López. UTSA Libraries Special Collections.

Toy López, Ella. Make Mine Menudo: Chicano Cook Book. La Puente, Calif.: Sunburst Enterprises, c1976. [TX715.2 .S69 L848 1976]


This week, we continue our tour of Ella Toy López’ Make Mine Menudo: Chicano Cook Book with a recipe for nopalitos with pork, and a recipe for home-made nopalitos.


Cactus Pads with Meat (Nopalitos con Carne) (14)

  • 2 cups nopalitos (canned or homemade)
  • 2 lbs. pork steak
  • 1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 clove garlic (minced)
  • 1 cup green onions (chopped)
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon lard
  • 2 tablespoons crushed red chiles
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Cut pork into pieces no bigger than 1/2 inch squares. Sauté meat and onions until brown. Add crushed chiles, garlic, cumin, cilantro, tomato sauce and water into meat mixture. Dilute flour in small amount of water and add to thicken the sauce. Pour nopalitos into ingredients while mixing gently. Simmer for 15 minutes. salt and pepper to taste. 

Serves 6-8. 

*Can be used for burrito filling. 
*Can be prepared in Mole sauce. (See: recipe)


Fresh Cactus Pads (Pencas de Nopales Frescos) (57)

  • 6-8 medium size nopales
  • Water as needed
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 small onion
  • Salt to taste

Prickly pear cactus pads are sometimes sold fresh. They are also sold commercially, in cans or jars. Refrigerate fresh nopalitos prior to preparing. To prepare nopales for future use, hold each pad with tongs and pass over a flame lightly to sear the tiny thorns, thus enabling you to handle pads with bear hands, however, use caution. With a small paring knife gouge out the tiny thorns like removing the “eyes” from potatoes. Continue until nopales is cleared and wash. Cut pads into small squares or thin strips and place in about 1 cup of water. Add onion and garlic with salt to taste. Boil gently for about 10 minutes. Drain and rinse and store in covered container until ready to prepare.

*The flavor and texture of nopales is similar to green beans. 
*Nopales can be used as a vegetable substitute in meat, salads and egg omelet preparations.
*Nopales can be frozen. 

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