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Migas con Nopales

Migas con Nopales
My foodie bff Leslie and I are squeaking in on the last day of June to bring you another edition of she made, ella hace with our theme: Nopales! I buy my fresh nopales, or cactus paddles, at one of my local Mexican markets. They make look intimidating with all of the needles sticking out, but armed with a pair of tongs, they're not so scary.

And then  you get them home. What now!? Remove those prickly needles, that's what. I use a kitchen towel or a wad of paper towels to grab the stem end. Then I cut a thin layer off, all the way around the outside edge of the paddle - there are a lot of small prickers around the edges. Then, I grab the paddle from the opposite end, and cut off the stem end. Next, using a longish, sharp knife held at a very small angle, slice down the paddle going against the needles. Flip, repeat, then rinse the whole thing off. Some markets may even offer already de-stickered whole cactus paddles for sale. Mine often sells them already cleaned and sliced in baggies. If all else fails, you can usually find them in a jar.

I always get the question: what do they taste like? Inevitably, my answer: kind of like a green bean crossed with a lemon. With a little residual slime (like okra).  I don't know if that's the best answer, but to me, that describes it.
Nopales or Cactus Paddles
We throw nopales on the grill quite often during the summer months. Once grilled, I like to slice them and stuff them in a taco with meat, salsa, and queso fresco. Sometimes I toss them with tomatoes, onions, and queso fresco (or feta or goat cheese) and squeeze a little lime and olive oil over for a salad. This past Saturday we went to visit my mom and brother, and we grilled some up, diced it, then topped hotdogs with it, tomato, onion, and olive salad. YUM!

But today, I decided to go in a different direction, and put them into migas! Tex-Mex style migas are basically scrambled eggs with crispy tortillas mixed in. They usually start with an onion, tomato, and chile base, but I've seen all sorts of variations. For these, I roasted a poblano for the chile component, and guessed it...nopales! We loved them.

Speaking of going in a different direction, leave it to my partner-in-crime to come up with an application for nopales that I'd never heard of (or even imagined) before; check out Leslie's Grapefruit-Cactus Paddle Smoothie. What!?

Migas con Nopales (Scrambled Eggs w/ Tortilla and Cactus)
Scrambled eggs with crispy tortilla strips and tender cactus paddles, otherwise known as Migas con Nopales, are a delicious variation on this classic Tex-Mex breakfast.
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Migas con Nopales
by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15-20 minutes
Keywords: breakfast entree vegetarian nut-free cactus eggs tortillas Southwest Tex-Mex

Ingredients (serves 4-6)
  • 4 corn tortillas, cut into squares or strips
  • vegetable oil, for frying
  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 (5-6 ounces each) cactus paddles (nopales), cleaned & diced
  • 1/2 red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 roasted poblano chile, skinned, stemmed, seeded, & roughly chopped
  • 1 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 4 ounces manchego cheese, shredded
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
Bring about 1/4" of oil in a small skilet. Drop the tortilla squares in (do this in batches, if necessary) and fry until golden and crisp. Use a slotted spoon or slotted metal spatula to remove to a paper towel-lined plate; reserve.
tortillas cut for Migas con Nopales
Beat the eggs and heavy cream together in a medium bowl with a few huge pinches of salt and pepper.

Heat oil in a 10" cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add nopales and a big pinch of salt. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium, add onion, and cook for 4 more minutes. Stir in tomato and cook for 1 minute.
making Migas con Nopales
Add the roasted poblano and reserved tortilla chips, then pour in the egg mixture and sprinkle the cheese over everything. Use a heat-proof rubber spatula or wooden spoon to move everything around until the eggs are cooked to your liking. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.
Migas con Nopales
What happens when two American girls who are both married to Mexican guys find out that although one of them lives in the U.S. and one of them lives in Mexico, they both love eating the same food?  Well, naturally they decide to get "together" the only way they can and cook up the same dishes.  Or perhaps take the same ingredients and talking about them in their own voice or using them in their own way.

Leslie and I have teamed up to occasionally cook/bake/make a our own versions of the same food.  We want to see how similar (or how different) they turn out.  Other times we will pick an ingredient and use it however we choose...or maybe just talk about it.  Good food knows no borders and we hope to share the food we love with you.  It's not a competition, it's a showcase.  We will post on the same day as each other and would love to hear your thoughts on what we've made and how you make it. 

Join me (here at All Roads Lead to the Kitchen) and Leslie in her kitchen (at La Cocina de Leslie) for some delicious food.