I always see cactus leaves at Mexican grocery stores and at the Farmers' Market, and have wondered how it tastes. Some of these are sold with their tiny spines and nubs still on; some have been removed, and some have been diced already. And there are some prepared salads sold in small plastic containers.
On my visit to the Farmers' Market 2 weeks ago, I asked the Hispanic woman, who always sells oriental vegetables, about preparing cactus. She explained to me on how it is prepared, but did not give me details or recipe.
I thought I would give it a try and bought from her a dollar's worth which was 3 pieces and took it home. I found a recipe in the internet, which was simple and easy to make.
As per the woman's instruction I diced the cactus (I used one for now) after washing it, and boiled it for 10 minutes. Then I drained it. I chopped a medium sized tomato, some onions, a Jalapeno pepper and mixed all of them with the boiled cactus. I had it for dinner along with some rice, fried fish, and...I forgot the other dish. (Grrr...my senior moment.) It did not turn out the way I expected. It was blah...bland.
We have 2 Farmers' Market here: One on Sunday mornings at the college campus; and on Thursday afternoons at the Market Street on Old Town Newhall. I stopped by at the Market Street and found this Hispanic man selling some cactus. He told me that instead of boiling, he grills them. That way, he said, it doesn't lose the flavor and the food value of the vegetable. He makes sense.
So that's what I did. Well, not exactly. Rather than fire-up my grill, I popped the 2 remaining cactus in my toaster-oven and broiled them. When done, I diced them. And this time, I chopped some cilantro (coriander), tossed it in with the chopped jalapeno pepper, tomatoes and onions; and I squeezed a bit of Mexican key lime. This time the cactus was crunchy, and the lime added flavor to it. It was uhm uhm good.