Nopales Salad with Jalapeños and Cotija Cheese-MainPhoto


*Editor’s Note: Nopalitos can be found in jars or cleaned and ready for use. In case all that are available are fresh, uncleaned nopalitos. Clementina Llanes provides information for taking care of this at home. 


  1. First of all, it’s important to remove the stingers. Always wear gloves. Carefully trim off the outer edge of each nopal with a small sharp knife. Now, take a larger knife and scrape off ALL of the stingers.
  2. Cut an inch off the lower end of each nopal. Rinse the nopales under cold running water and examine them closely, making sure there are absolutely no stingers left.
  3. Put the nopales in a large pot and add enough water to cover. Add the onion, garlic and 1 T salt. Bring to a boil and reduce heat.  Simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, or until nopales are fork-tender.  Discard onion and garlic cloves.