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Nopalito Fries

Besides grilling, this is one of the best recipes to introduce novice cactus eaters to this vegetable. Cut in the shape of French fries, these tempura-covered nopales are delicious dipped in your favorite sauce, from ranch to marinara, or serve with a gingery tempura sauce. The batter is great for all sorts of veggies but makes surprisingly delicious southwest style cactus fries!


  • 1-2 medium size cactus pads
  • Tempura Batter:
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup ice cold water or beer
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder

Trim edges and singe or peel glochids (leaflets and tiny spines) from pads. Rinse and pat dry then cut into long ½” wide strips. Beat the egg well, add the water and mix. Sift the flour, then sift it with the baking powder, then add to the egg/water mixture all at once. Stir, but don’t make it smooth; it should have some lumps. The texture to aim for is thinner pancake batter; it should coat the vegetables but the excess should drip off readily. Heat ½ inch of canola or peanut oil in a skillet until it just begins to smoke. Dip strips into the batter, let excess drip off, then put into hot oil. When browned on the first side, turn over. The goal is to have the vegetable crisp-cooked before the batter burns. Drain them well on a rack set over a paper towel, season with salt and pepper or chile powder if you like, and pop into a warm oven—or just cook a batch at a time to be devoured by the hordes of family members who have discovered a previously latent love for vegetables.

Submitted by Sara and Lorraine