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Ayocotes with Nopales and Fiery Salsa


A serving bowl with cooked black beans, cooked cactus, salsa, and cornbread

Nopales are prickly-pear cactus paddles that you can find in most Mexican markets and some supermarkets. You can often buy them precleaned, but if you need to do it yourself, here are some tips

  • 1 to 2 cups cleaned, cubed nopales (cactus paddles)
  • ¼ of a white onion, chopped
  • 3 cups cooked Rancho Gordo heirloom beans, such as Ayocote Negro or Ayocote Morado, with some broth
  • 1 sprig fresh epazote
  • Chile de Arbol Salsa for serving
  • Skillet Cornbread (optional; see below)

Serves 2

  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, add the nopales and onion and cover with water by 1 inch. Simmer until the nopales are cooked but still al dente, about 10 minutes. Strain and reserve the vegetables, discarding the water.
  2. If starting with cooked beans, place the beans and their broth in a pot over medium heat. Add the sprig of epazote and cook, stirring gently, for about 10 minutes. (If starting with dried beans, add the epazote sprig during the last 10 or so minutes of cooking.)
  3. Divide the warm beans among bowls and top with a scoop of nopales. Serve with salsa and cornbread or corn tortillas.


1½ cups cornmeal
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon plain yogurt or sour cream
1 large egg, room temperature, beaten
¼ cup melted butter (melted in a large skillet)

Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients. In another bowl, combine the milk, yogurt, and egg. Stir the melted butter into the wet ingredients. Swirl the residual butter in the skillet to evenly coat. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients; stir
to combine.

Pour the batter into the skillet. Bake until golden, about 20 minutes.


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