Nopales, also known as the pads of prickly pear cactuses, are part of classic Mexican fare. Stripped of their spines, the pads' flesh adds tartness and crispness to dishes like pollo con nopales and tacos de nopales. Nopales, although sometimes pickled or canned, are often eaten raw or grilled, with fresh nopales having the best flavor and texture. When working with fresh nopales, the pads' flesh can be prepared and then frozen until it's time to cook.
Ice Cold Cactus
Nopales need a little work before you can pop them into the freezer. Rinse the nopales under cold water, then remove the pad's thorns and bumps with a vegetable peeler. Lay the nopal flat on a cutting board, cut off its borders with a paring or sharp knife, then cut the pads into 1/6- to 1/4-inch strips. Place the strips into a saucepan with water, bring the water to a boil, then remove the strips. Put the strips into a resealable bag or container, then place them into the freezer for up to a year.
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