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Quinoa with Cactus

Canned or fresh cactus is combined with tomatoes, garlic and quinoa for a satisfying and filling meal.
Medium bowl of cactus and vegetables with quinoa.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Makes: 4 cups
Nutrition Facts: View label

Ingredients

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
½ cup diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced or ½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ tsp. salt
1 cup diced tomatoes (2 to 3 medium)
1 cup water
1 cup quinoa (if not pre-rinsed, rinse well using a fine-mesh strainer)
½ cup diced nopalitos, or cactus (canned and rinsed or fresh; see Notes)

Directions

  1. Wash hands with soap and water.
  2. Heat oil in a medium saucepan on medium heat. Add onion, garlic, tomatoes and salt. Cook until vegetables begin to soften, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add water and quinoa. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat. Cover the pan and simmer 10 minutes, or until liquid is almost absorbed.
  4. Stir in nopalitos, cover the pan and reduce heat to low for a few more minutes, until all liquid is absorbed.
  5. Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours.

Notes

  • Enjoy as a side with beans, chicken, fish, beef or eggs.
  • No fresh tomatoes? Use 1 cup canned diced tomatoes. Omit salt if canned tomatoes contain salt.
  • Add any extra nopalitos to salads with avocado, onion, tomato, cucumber, pepper and cilantro. They also add a bright flavor to scrambled eggs or rice.
  • To use fresh cactus: Choose paddles that are bright green and soft, but not limp. To protect your hands, wear gloves while cleaning the nopalitos. Rinse under cold water, being careful not to prick your fingers. Remove the spines with a vegetable peeler or knife. Trim away about ¼ inch of the edges and ½ inch of the thick base. Rinse and cut into bite-sized pieces. Put cactus pieces in a saucepan with the stem end of an onion (onion tail) and cover with water. Bring water to a boil and simmer until cactus is soft, about 20 to 25 minutes. Pour into a colander to drain.

Thanks to the OSU Extension Latin Heritage Workgroup for this recipe.

Comments

This recipe is so simple and delicious. It was easy to find a jar of nopalitos in the grocery store near tortillas, salsas and hominy. We loved the flavor and textures of this side dish.

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