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Vegetable of the Month: Edible Cactus!

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Preparation

The edible cactus you buy should be de-spined though you will need to trim the "eyes," to remove any remaining prickers, and outside edges of the pads with a vegetable peeler. Trim off any dry or fibrous areas and rinse thoroughly to remove any stray prickers and sticky fluid.

Edible cactus can be eaten raw or cooked. To cook, steam over boiling water for just a few minutes (if cooked too long they will lose their crunchy texture). Then slice and eat! Cactus can also be cut and sautéed in butter or oil for a few minutes.

Steamed cactus can be added to scrambled eggs and omelets, or diced fresh and added to tortillas. They can also be substituted for any cooked green in most dishes.

The pads can be served as a side dish or cooled and used in salads. They taste especially good with Mexican recipes that include tomatoes, hot peppers and fresh corn.

Make Edible Cactus Part of Your 5 A Day Plan

  • Cut up and add to salads.
  • Dice and add to your favorite salsa recipe or any store
  • bought salsa.
  • Cut up and add to any corn side dish.
  • Dice edible cactus and add to couscous along with diced tomatoes.
  • Add to your favorite burrito along with lettuce and tomatoes.

Recipes

Scrambled Eggs with Edible Cactus

Makes 4 servings
Each serving equals one 5 A Day serving

Ingredients

2 Tbsp pine nuts
1/4 lb edible cactus (nopales), de-prickered,
rinsed, and cut into ¼ inch squares
2 Tbsp peeled and diced medium-hot chili-pepper
or low sodium diced tomatoes
1 3/4 up egg substitute
salt and pepper
cooking spray

Toast nuts in a skillet over low heat until lightly browned, stirring often; reserve.

Spray nonstick pan with cooking spray. Stir in cactus; toss gently over moderate heat until crisp-tender (about 4-5 minutes). Stir in chilipepper.

Blend eggs, adding salt to taste. Add eggs to cactus and chilies. Stir often until set. Sprinkle with pepper and pine nuts and serve hot.

Nutritional analysis per serving: Calories 52, Protein 10g, Fat 0g, Calories From Fat 5%, Cholesterol 0mg, Carbohydrates 2g, Fiber 0g, Sodium 264mg.

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