When most people see this prickly desert plant, the last thing they think of is putting it in their mouth. But cactus, or nopales as they call it in the Southwest, makes a surprisingly delicious and versatile vegetable. With a few simple steps, you can bring the taste of the Southwest to your kitchen with these oven-baked cactus fries and avocado dipping sauce.
- 2 small nopale cactus
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 2 egg whites
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3 tablespoons coconut flour
- Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Wearing thick rubber gloves or a silicone oven mitt, rinse the cactus under cold water. The gloves will help protect your hands from the cactus thorns.
Place the cactus on a cutting board.
Trim the edges off the cactus using a paring knife.
Remove the cactus stem.
Holding the base of the cactus, run your knife across its surface to remove all of the thorns. Continue this motion until all of the thorns have been removed on both sides.
Rinse the prepared cactus under cold water. This will help remove any residual thorns. Carefully inspect the cactus to ensure all the thorns have been removed.
Slice the cactus into strips approximately one-half inch in width.
Cut each strip in half and set aside.
Pour one cup of panko breadcrumbs into a large shallow bowl.
Add one-half teaspoon of cumin and one-quarter teaspoon of cayenne pepper to the same bowl.
Combine the breadcrumbs, cumin and cayenne pepper with a whisk. Set aside.
Place three tablespoons of coconut flour in a separate shallow bowl. Season with a dash of salt and freshly ground pepper. Set aside.
Crack two eggs and separate the yolks. Place the egg whites in a third shallow bowl and set aside. Discard the egg yolks.
Spray a cookie sheet with cooking oil. Set aside.
Using your hands, dip one piece of sliced cactus in the bowl of egg whites.
Transfer that piece of cactus to the prepared bowl of coconut flour. Toss the cactus to evenly coat it in flour.
Place the flour-coated cactus back to the bowl of egg whites and evenly coat it in a second layer of egg.
Transfer the cactus to the seasoned breadcrumb bowl and coat evenly with breadcrumbs.
Place the coated cactus strip to the prepared cookie sheet.
Repeat steps 12 to 16 until all the cactus strips are coated.
Place the cookie sheet in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
Use a spatula to turn the cactus fries and bake for an additional 10 minutes until they are crispy and golden.
Cool for five minutes before serving. Serve with avocado dipping sauce.
Avocado dipping sauce
- 1 ripe avocado
- 2 tablespoons sour cream
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- Juice from one-half a lime
- 1 teaspoon fresh dill
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Remove the skin and the pit of one avocado. Slice the avocado in quarters and place it in the bowl of a food processor.
- Add two tablespoons of sour cream to the bowl of the food processor.
- Add two tablespoons of mayonaise to the bowl of the food processor.
- Add one-quarter teaspoon of garlic powder and one-quarter teaspoon of onion powder to the bowl of the food processor. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Add one tablespoon of fresh dill to the bowl of the food processor.
- Squeeze the juice of half a lime into the bowl of the food processor.
- Place the lid on the food processor and pulse it until the consistency is smooth. You may need to scrape the edges of the bowl with a spatula to ensure even blending. Transfer the avocado dip to a serving bowl and serve immediately with the cactus fries. Store the dip in a sealable container in the refrigerator.