Preparing Cactus Paddles
Clean cactus paddles by removing any spines and with a potato peeler - peel the skin off the outer sides. Brush paddles with olive oil and place on grill for about ten minutes flipping once halfway until they start to become tender. Once done, squeeze fresh lemon juice on top and season with salt and pepper. Laurie Smith
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To make the equivalent of a 32-oz. can of prepared nopalitos, start with 1 lb. of fresh nopales. To remove thorns, place each cactus paddle flat on a cutting board. Hold base steady and scrape away thorns with a sharp knife at a 45° angle, leaving intact as much of the green outer layer as possible. Repeat on the other side. Cut off base, trim any rough edges, and slice into 2″ × 1⁄4″ strips. They will be very sticky, so reduce “slime” by blanching nopalitos in a medium pot of boiling salted water for 3 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse well with cold water. Bring a fresh pot of salted water to a boil, add nopalitos, and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Do not overcook. Drain and use in place of canned nopalitos.

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