Roquefort with Grilled Nopales

Grilled Nopales with Roquefort Cheese and Agave Nectar

Sometimes when I’m having trouble coming up with something new and interesting, all it takes is a trip to a market that’s not in my usual repertoire of shops. On this particular occasion, I decided to trek out to Essex Market. It’s an indoor public market in the Lower East Side that houses an eclectic collection of shops including a butcher, a fishmonger, a cheesemonger, some Latin American grocers and a TV repair shop.

There, I spotted a these gorgeous green pads of Nopal, which I couldn’t resist. Still wondering what I was going to do with my newly acquired prickly veggies, I headed over to Saxelby Cheesemongers. The thing I like about this cheese shop is that they don’t have an overwhelming selection like some places in Manahattan, and yet they always seem to have something special and delicious.

Nopales

I picked up a wedge of True Blue, and it wasn’t until I got out onto the street that it occurred to me that my two random purchases might work together. There, on the chewing gum strewn sidewalk, the idea of cactus canap├ęs was born.

When brushed with olive oil and grilled, nopales make the perfect flat foil that can be cut to almost any shape and topped with various things. After having a bite with just the nopal and cheese, I realized it needed something to bridge the gap between the tartness of the nopal and the brine of the cheese, perhaps something a little sweet. In keeping with the cactus theme, I drizzled a bit of agave nectar on each piece, which did the trick.

Grilled Nopales with Roquefort

2 nopales
olive oil
salt
Roquefort cheese (such as Ewe’s Blue)
Agave nectar

Clean the nopales of any remaining spines by placing each segment on a flat surface and running the back side of your knife from the top to the bottom. Be sure to get all around the edges as well. Once you’ve removed all the spines, wash them off and dry them.

Brush the nopales with olive oil and sprinkle some salt on each one. Put them on a grill or under a broiler until cooked through and lightly browned.

Slice each segment into bite size pieces and top with a piece of Roquefort and a drizzle of agave nectar.

  • http://blog.lemonpi.net/ Y

    I thought you had grilled some eggplant, judging from the first photo. But ahhh, nopales! Haven’t tried nopales before. Was it expensive to buy? Looks like something someone plucked off the side of the road to sell. ;)

  • http://blog.lemonpi.net Y

    I thought you had grilled some eggplant, judging from the first photo. But ahhh, nopales! Haven’t tried nopales before. Was it expensive to buy? Looks like something someone plucked off the side of the road to sell. ;)

  • http://elrasbaking.blogspot.com/ elra

    I love Roquefort very much, this is very intriguing combination. I never eaten this Nopales before. Sounds really delectable!

  • http://elrasbaking.blogspot.com elra

    I love Roquefort very much, this is very intriguing combination. I never eaten this Nopales before. Sounds really delectable!

  • http://duodishes.com/ The Duo Dishes

    There are nopales in certain markets here, and they’re so cheap. They make great additions to salads. Nice pair with the roquefort.

  • http://duodishes.com The Duo Dishes

    There are nopales in certain markets here, and they’re so cheap. They make great additions to salads. Nice pair with the roquefort.

  • http://www.diaryofafanaticfoodie.com/ Heather

    ohhh. i have never even heard of a nopale! this looks so super tasty, though :)

  • http://www.diaryofafanaticfoodie.com Heather

    ohhh. i have never even heard of a nopale! this looks so super tasty, though :)

  • http://chefholly.typepad.com/ Holly

    Another great idea. I have been using a lot of agave lately.

  • http://chefholly.typepad.com/ Holly

    Another great idea. I have been using a lot of agave lately.

  • http://www.pigpigscorner.com/ pigpigscorner

    You use the most interesting ingredients!

  • http://www.pigpigscorner.com pigpigscorner

    You use the most interesting ingredients!

  • http://fivestarfoodie.blogspot.com/ Natasha – 5 Star Foodie

    Very unusual ingredient! Curious about how Nopales tastes. Sounds good with Roquefort.

  • http://fivestarfoodie.blogspot.com Natasha – 5 Star Foodie

    Very unusual ingredient! Curious about how Nopales tastes. Sounds good with Roquefort.

  • http://www.minimalchronicles.blogspot.com/ chiara.u

    Mmmm I can’t imagine to eat something that I know only as an ornamental plant… I don’t have an idea of where I could buy it here in Italy… I suppose I must travel to New York also for this reason!!!!
    (the party for 30 was a success!)
    Bye :)

  • http://www.minimalchronicles.blogspot.com chiara.u

    Mmmm I can’t imagine to eat something that I know only as an ornamental plant… I don’t have an idea of where I could buy it here in Italy… I suppose I must travel to New York also for this reason!!!!
    (the party for 30 was a success!)
    Bye :)

  • http://manggy.blogspot.com/ Manggy

    There’s something about the simplicity of having only a handful of ingredients that makes me think the recipe has a Japanese feel, even though none of the ingredients have anything to do with it. Very zen :) The minimal presentation is also quite beautiful :)

  • http://manggy.blogspot.com Manggy

    There’s something about the simplicity of having only a handful of ingredients that makes me think the recipe has a Japanese feel, even though none of the ingredients have anything to do with it. Very zen :) The minimal presentation is also quite beautiful :)

  • http://lisaiscooking.blogspot.com/ lisaiscooking

    Very cool! I like this combination. And, I have plenty of prickly pear pieces that need pruning in my front yard. This dish came about at just the right time!

  • http://lisaiscooking.blogspot.com/ lisaiscooking

    Very cool! I like this combination. And, I have plenty of prickly pear pieces that need pruning in my front yard. This dish came about at just the right time!

  • http://www.deglazeme.blogspot.com/ Christina@DeglazeMe

    Simple, elegant, and so very creative.

  • http://www.deglazeme.blogspot.com Christina@DeglazeMe

    Simple, elegant, and so very creative.

  • http://onlinepastrychef.wordpress.com/ Jenni

    Love the thought process, Marc! Simple and lovely, and the addition of a bit of agave nectar, while seemingly obvious, really is genius.

    And now you know where to go when your TV wigs out, too!

  • http://onlinepastrychef.wordpress.com/ Jenni

    Love the thought process, Marc! Simple and lovely, and the addition of a bit of agave nectar, while seemingly obvious, really is genius.

    And now you know where to go when your TV wigs out, too!

  • http://www.thewickednoodle.com/ the wicked noodle

    How inspiring! I’d love to take more risks in my cooking; your blog is definitely helping to move me in that direction. These look divine!

  • http://www.thewickednoodle.com the wicked noodle

    How inspiring! I’d love to take more risks in my cooking; your blog is definitely helping to move me in that direction. These look divine!

  • http://www.shesimmers.com/ Leela@shesimmers

    Since I have never had nopales, I’m having a hard time imagining the flavor and texture. But I know that Roguefort and agave nectar go very well together. You’ve piqued my curiosity. I happen to be surrounded by nopales (and rattlesnakes too, for that matter) in my current location; finding the ingredients won’t be a problem.

    This is so not fair. I’ve found myself on a gum-strewn sidewalk lots of times and never once been hit by any good ideas.

  • http://www.shesimmers.com Leela@shesimmers

    Since I have never had nopales, I’m having a hard time imagining the flavor and texture. But I know that Roguefort and agave nectar go very well together. You’ve piqued my curiosity. I happen to be surrounded by nopales (and rattlesnakes too, for that matter) in my current location; finding the ingredients won’t be a problem.

    This is so not fair. I’ve found myself on a gum-strewn sidewalk lots of times and never once been hit by any good ideas.

  • http://www.easy-french-food.com/index.html Kim

    I’ve been looking for appetizers using Roquefort cheese and this is one of the most exotic ones I’ve seen. Very creative and I guess I better find out what agave nectar is (I live in such a bubble). You photos are so very inspiring.

  • http://www.easy-french-food.com/index.html Kim

    I’ve been looking for appetizers using Roquefort cheese and this is one of the most exotic ones I’ve seen. Very creative and I guess I better find out what agave nectar is (I live in such a bubble). You photos are so very inspiring.

  • http://www.whatdoiwant2cooktoday.blogspot.com Jan

    Can’t say I’ve never heard of or seen Nopales before! Very interesting.

  • http://www.whatdoiwant2cooktoday.blogspot.com/ Jan

    Can’t say I’ve never heard of or seen Nopales before! Very interesting.

  • http://culinarydisaster.com/wordpress Jeff

    Jealous of your access to amazing food. I have been on a mission for cactus after having a cactus chili at the local salad shop Saturday.

    Everything is better with Roquefort cheese and now if I can find my cactus bet to heck I am making this.

  • http://culinarydisaster.com/wordpress Jeff

    Jealous of your access to amazing food. I have been on a mission for cactus after having a cactus chili at the local salad shop Saturday.

    Everything is better with Roquefort cheese and now if I can find my cactus bet to heck I am making this.

  • http://www.palatetopen.com/ Jen

    I admire the simplicity of this recipe and how the best of each ingredient shines through the presentation and taste. I don’t think I’ll find nopales around here, but I’ll daydream!

  • http://www.palatetopen.com Jen

    I admire the simplicity of this recipe and how the best of each ingredient shines through the presentation and taste. I don’t think I’ll find nopales around here, but I’ll daydream!

  • http://kitchensidecar.blogspot.com/ katiek @kitchensidecar

    Wow. You make cleaning nopales sound so easy. My friend is always telling me how hard they are to clean. In SF the mexican markets even clean them for you and cut them up.

    I like this take on traditional fare. I was debating o serve them with mole negro at my “Sweating Mexico” dinner party. Sadly, I never did.

    Thanks for reminding me of them. Maybe I’ll finally do something with them.

  • http://kitchensidecar.blogspot.com katiek @kitchensidecar

    Wow. You make cleaning nopales sound so easy. My friend is always telling me how hard they are to clean. In SF the mexican markets even clean them for you and cut them up.

    I like this take on traditional fare. I was debating o serve them with mole negro at my “Sweating Mexico” dinner party. Sadly, I never did.

    Thanks for reminding me of them. Maybe I’ll finally do something with them.

  • Patty F.

    This Idea is great, thank you also for all of you Nopal fans you can also peel the.dice them in to 1/2 cubes and bile them with salt, a 1/2 med. onion and a handful of cilantro. once boiling for a 1/2 hour you can drain, rince and use in an egg fritatta or even in a Pico de gallo salsa with Nopal! Yummy!

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