Just when you thought….

that I couldn’t come up with anything more unusual than my submission to the chocolate contest, BAM, here I come to try to inspire you to make Cactus Taco Filling. Why? Well it is a fun vegetarian main or side dish alternative and it is a dish that will be well enjoyed!

While I have attempted to cross post from my original piece done for the SV Mom’s Blog, technical difficulties have prevailed on my end and I am now going to just do my best to fill your foodie appetite for a new recipe. That said, for the full story behind this recipe please do read on at Silicon Valley Mom’s Blog: Mi Pueblo San Rafael’s Newest Latin Supermarket

Cactus Taco Filling (Nopales en Ensalada)


1 ½ lbs paddle cactus leaves (nopales), spines removed cut the size of French Green Beans
4 TBS white vinegar
½ tsp oregano, dried but not ground
¼ cup cilantro plus more for garnish, fresh chopped
1 large potato, peeled then cubed
salt and pepper, to taste
1 yellow onion, sliced length-wise
3 tomatoes, diced
2 TBS vegetable oil
1 package corn tortillas, cooked
sour cream (optional)
Panela or cotija cheese (optional)

Mexican and other Latino markets, like Mi Pueblo, often sell prepared cactus leaves, which is MUCH easier than having to wear gloves and use a paring knife to remove spines. If you would like to see a good video on how to do this I recommend Zarela Martinez’s son, Food Network star, Aaron Sanchez clip that shows you how to work with Nopales & Chayotes.


Cut the fresh cactus leaves into strips. In a saucepan, boil cactus with 1/2 cup water and a large pinch of salt, covered, for about 10 minutes, or until tender. Drain and rinse well in cold water to remove the slippery film which develops from boiling. In a bowl, combine cactus with white wine vinegar, oregano and cilantro. Let sit for 30 minutes.

I typically cook my tortillas on top of an oven burner, at low heat, for 15-25 seconds on each side. This does tend to mess up an electric burner — it is a bit less of a mess on a gas burner. You can also pan fry them by spraying a non-stick spray in a pan and turning once on each side or there is always the popular oil pan fry method. To keep cooked tortillas warm, place in a cloth or paper towel on a plate while preparing the remainder of tortillas. Set aside. Note: Plastic wrap or aluminum foil used to keep the tortillas warm often creates a damp tortilla unless there is an ample amount of paper/cloth involved to absorb the moisture.

Heat vegetable oil in a saute pan and add the potatoes and cook for 15 minutes on medium-high heat, stirring frequently to prevent from sticking to bottom of pan. Salt and pepper to taste. Add in the onion and cook 5-7 minutes until translucent. Lower to medium heat and add in the tomatoes for 5 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the cactus for 5 minutes to warm and absorb the flavors. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with cheese and additional cilantro.

Serves 4-6

This is an original recipe post to Silicon Valley Moms Blog.

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