I am not kidding ... I watched Hey, Dude [Amazon Prime!] on Sunday and then made cactus for dinner and didn't even realize it until just now. Love it.
So, handsome and I are walking through the produce section at Gucci Brookshires looking for all kinds-a peppers when I spot a big ass cactus leaf. Naturally, I pick it up and start waving it around saying, "oh, look! How weird!" This display of grace is quickly interrupted with a few cuss words when I realize I'm stabbing myself and getting cactus splinters [splinters?] all in my hands. So lets start with the number one rule of cactus cookin' ... don't be dumb about it.
Cactus leaf, also known as Nopales is used most often in Mexican cuisine, is excellent for lowering blood glucose, and has a taste similar to string beans. So, it's really cheap ... about $1/lb and we just got one leaf, which was plenty for the two of us in a dish with other ingredients.
As I often do, I just "winged" it and started cooking when I got home. I figured I should shave off the demon spines or whathaveyou, so I simply took a bread knife and while rinsing, shaved them off until the leaf was relatively smooth. I later Googled to find out some people are much more paranoid and take the time to cut off each spine individually. Do whatever ...
I then sliced the leaf longways and diced into small strips. I have an issue with soggy vegetables, so I often dice instead of leaving them large. Now, I need to express something now that sounds super gross [and is, really] but after my experiment, I found some recipes online and NO ONE talks about the slime! This is the slimiest thing I've ever cooked, and I cook a lot of fish. I kept thinking maybe I accidentally got an aloe leaf instead of the cactus. So ... after sliming up my [new] cutting board while slicing, I decided to put the diced leaf into a sieve and wash it again to get the goo gone. Result? Still slimy, but a little better. I added some lemon juice and threw them into the pan where I was already sauteing some garlic in olive oil and cauliflower.
I seasoned the veggies with lemon zest and cracked black pepper and served it with roasted chicken breast and it was delicious! Also, I had the lowest glucose reading I've had since I started my blood sugar diet for my Gestational Diabetes. Score! I think I'd really like to try and grill it on kebabs with summer veggies or add it to my homemade salsa or pesto. It is a hearty bean-like filler veggie with several health benefits. I don't think I'd eat it alone since I'm not a huge fan of green beans and that is what it most closely resembles in taste, but I approve and definitely will pass this info on to people!
I still have a splinter, though.