One of my best ideas ever. Crispy Cactus Tacos.
Back in January, a staggering 9 months ago, I was hosting “Chopped Challenge Thursdays” on my blog where I let friends and followers select 4 ingredients in which I would be cooking one dish with. In the last week of January I was given nopales, AKA cactus, as one of the ingredients.
I had never cooked with cactus and didn’t even know where to begin to find it. Luckily living in San Diego, we have many hispanic markets around the city that carry the ingredient. The first place I stopped had it in the jar, but not fresh.
Not knowing if I would find fresh cactus at my next location, I decided to go ahead and purchase the jar of cactus. Sure enough, the next location had tons of fresh cactus, so I went ahead and picked that up for my “Chopped Challenge” recipe that week.
I ended up making a fresh nopale guacamole on top of chipotle cashew chicken tostadas with black bean puree. The result was amazing and I couldn’t wait to prepare my next dish with cactus.
… 9 months later, I found that jar of nopales up in my pantry and decided it was time to work with the delicious ingredient once again!
For this recipe, I prepared the cactus in a similar way to my Gluten Free Baked Buffalo Pickle Chips. Breaded in a slightly spicy mixture, then baked to a crisp perfection.
I topped the tacos with a super fresh corn, black bean and tomato relish, as well as creamy avocado dressing and queso fresco.
I’m telling you, these are now my favorite tacos ever. I judged a taco festival this weekend, and even up against some of the best tacos in San Diego, I think this taco would have won!
It’s unique, vegetarian and layered with different flavors and textures!
- 1 jar (30 oz) cactus (nopales)
- 2 eggs
- ¼ cup hot sauce
- 2 tbsp taco seasoning (click for homemade recipe)
- 1 cup rice chex crumbs (click for video on how to make)
- 8 small flour (or corn) tortillas
- ¼ cup queso fresco (crumbled)
- 2 cups black bean corn relish (recipe below)
- 1 cup avocado cream sauce (recipe below)
Begin by draining and rinsing the cactus.
Next, whisk together the eggs and hot sauce in a shallow bowl.
In another bowl combine the taco seasoning and rice chex crumbs.
Pour the seasoned rice chex mixture onto a plate. Prepare the cactus by first dipping it in the hot sauce and egg mixture.
Next, dredge it through the seasoned rice chex crumbs.
When coated well, place on a rack on top of a baking sheet.
Once all of the cactus is breaded, turn the broiler on to high.
Place in the middle rack of the oven for app. 10 minutes or until the breading on the cactus is crispy.
While the cactus is in the oven, prepare the relish.
- 2 ears corn (grilled)
- 1 can (15.5 oz) black beans
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes (quartered)
- ½ red onion (chopped)
- ¼ cup cilantro (chopped)
- 3 sweet mini peppers (chopped)
- 1 jalapeno (chopped)
- 1 lime (juiced)
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp cumin
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
Remove the kernels from the ears of corn into a large mixing bowl. Drain and rinse the black beans, then add to the corn.
Add the tomatoes, red onion, cilantro, mini peppers and jalapeño.
Squeeze the lime juice over the relish, then sprinkle the cumin, salt and pepper on top. Mix well.
For the avocado cream sauce, place 2 avocados, 2 limes (juiced) and 2 tbsp fresh cilantro in a blender until creamy.
Prepare the tacos by warming the tortillas then placing strips of crispy cactus on top.
Next, top with the black bean corn relish.
Add a drizzle of avocado cream sauce, then top with crumbled queso fresco and fresh cilantro.
The combination of crisp cactus strips, with fresh relish and creamy avocado is perfection.
♣ Vegetarian Option: This recipe is vegetarian..
♦ Gluten Free Option: This recipe is gluten-free when corn tortillas are used.