Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Chorizo and Rice with Nopalitos Salad

Nopales is the Spanish term for cactus stems, or “paddles,” as we call them. Fresh paddles from the prickly pear cactus are available in Mexican markets and at some larger supermarkets, but you need to prepare them yourself for eating.

If you prefer not to tackle cleaning and scraping off the prickly spines, you can buy packages of chopped, fresh, ready-to-eat nopalitos in the produce section of most Mexican markets. Prepared nopalitos are also available in jars and cans.

If you’re not familiar with the taste of cactus, it’s similar to green beans or slightly tart asparagus. The texture of raw nopalitos is a bit soft with a little crunch. If you cook them, as in this recipe, it’s important not to overcook them, as too much heat can turn the texture a bit slimy. (Think okra.) A quick sear is all it takes to bring out the nopalitos’ savory flavor while retaining some firmness.

Nopalitos make tasty salad ingredients, along with other Mexican favorites like tomatoes, chiles, onion, and cilantro. Add a splash of lime for a bright, fresh finish.

Here, I served the salad as a side dish with a spicy mixture of chorizo and rice for a complete—and completely delicious—south-of-the-border meal.

Serves 4


For the Nopalitos Salad
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups nopalitos
  • 1/2 cup chopped spring onions or scallions
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and very thinly sliced
  • 1 cayenne or fresh chiles de arbol, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp dried Mexican oregano
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
Salad Ingredients
For the Chorizo and Rice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb Mexican chorizo
  • 1/4 cup chopped white onion
  • 1 red or orange habanero chile, finely chopped
  • 2 cups cooked white rice
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • lime wedges and warm tortillas, for serving

For the Nopalitos Salad
  1. Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Spread the nopalitos in the pan and sear without stirring 2 minutes.
  2. Stir the nopalitos and sear until beginning to brown, 1 minute longer. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool to room temperature.
Nopalitos Beginning to Sear
Seared Nopalitos 
  1. Add the onions, cilantro, chiles, garlic, lime juice, and oregano to the bowl and season with salt and pepper. Stir gently to combine and let stand 15 minutes.
  2. Stir in the tomatoes and taste for seasoning, adding a little more salt, if desired.
Nopalitos Salad without Tomatoes 
Nopalitos Salad
For the Chorizo and Rice
  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the chorizo, onion, and chile, and cook, breaking up the sausage, until the vegetables are soft and the chorizo is just cooked through, 10 minutes.
Chorizo Mixture Beginning to Cook 
Cooked Chorizo Mixture
  1. Sir in the cooked rice and cilantro and season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and cook until hot throughout, 2-3 minutes, if the rice is already warm.
Chorizo-Rice Mixture

To serve, divide the chorizo mixture among 4 plates and divide the nopalitos salad alongside. Garnish with lime wedges and warm tortillas and serve right away.

Chorizo and Rice with Nopalitos Salad

No comments:

Post a Comment