First Harvest of nopales this year! I love nopales. I love most everything about them. I love to eat them, I love to grow them.
Actually, I love to let them grow themselves. My only job is to harvest diligently. The more you harvest, the more you get. I hear that farther south they can be harvested year round. Not here. My harvest starts in late spring and goes until mid or late summer. It is a long enough harvest season. I get the chance to eat plenty and to preserve plenty, good enough for me.
I do not like to peel them. But I do peel them. I need to, I love to eat them.
Here I am, peeling the spines off, one by one, with a sharp knife that I keep cleaning and honing as I go. I really don’t like to work on nopales with a dull knife.
These pointy things that you see in the photo are soft leaves. As the pad grows and hardens they fall off. The spines are under the leaves. Some are large, and stiff, they look menacing but are not a problem. The little spines, those are the problem. They come in little bundles at the base of the big spines, innocent looking bristles that somehow find their way to my fingers and bite. They are hard to see, hard to pull out and painful. They are the reason peeling nopales is not fun, plus it’s a little tedious, I have to admit. But so worth it!
Tonight after peeling, I sliced the nopales, seasoned them with salt and olive oil and roasted them until dry and slightly browned. Nopales are full of a slimy substance that needs to be cooked out of them. The traditional method is to boil them with a copper coin in the pot, but I prefer to roast them until the slime has completely evaporated. They can also be grilled whole, which is my favorite way to prepare very tender nopales. Roasted or grilled they will have a more intense flavor than boiled.
The rest of the week’s harvest was basically the same as in previous weeks: lettuce, greens, limes, lemons, favas, and more favas, and still many more in the garden. This is turning out to be the year of the fava beans.
For more delicious pictures and stories of harvests, head on over to Daphne’s Dandelions, host of Harvest Monday, and take a look at what other gardeners have been up to this week.