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What: Nopal is prickly pear cactus, a very common vegetable in Mexican cuisine (and beyond). The green pads (spines removed, of course) are sometimes grilled and left whole, or they’re chopped into soups, salads, egg dishes, and more. With their slight tartness and firm texture, nopales taste a bit like green beans.
Where: Look for nopal on restaurant menus everywhere. You’ll often find it in salads, like this simple and tasty ensalada de nopales (42p) from La Flor de Oaxaca (951-516-5522; Armento y Lopez 311), a modest restaurant in Oaxaca. In this salad, chopped nopales join tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and sliced avocado in a juicy lime dressing. It was delicious—very fresh and bright. The same restaurant also offers nopal de asados, or grilled nopal, another popular way of serving cactus.
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