nōpalli, nopales (plural)
Nopales are the young pads of the Opuntia ficus-indica cactus, which is the same species from which prickly pears are harvested from. They're eaten as a vegetable in Mexico after the spines have been removed.
What's it taste like?
Nopales have a moist crunchy texture with with a slightly slimy texture similar to okra. In terms of flavour, they are tart, with a slightly citrusy taste.
Where do I get it?
They're available fresh in most Latin American groceries, and you may even find them in western groceries in areas with a large Hispanic population. You can also find them bottled or canned.
When is it best?
There is no season for nopales, but the pads should be picked young. Look for small tender pads that are firm with tight skin. They should not be spongy or wrinkly, and the color should be bright green.
How do I use it?
Nopales can be grilled, pickled or sauteed and served with eggs, in tacos or by themselves as a vegetable.
High in dietary fiber, vitamin A, Vitamin C, Magnesium, Potassium and Manganese.