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6 edible invasive species recipes

By: Enrique Gili on March 8, 2011, 7:47 a.m.

Photo: Andrelix/Shutterstock

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Nopales Rancheros (Prickly Pear Cactus Over Eggs)

Once considered the bane of man and beast in ranch country, the flat, tender pads, or nopales, of prickly pear cactus (Oputnia species) have long been a staple in the kitchens of the Southwest. The hardy cacti have colonized dry sandy hillsides as far away as New England, Hawaii and Australia.
Nopales Rancheros (Prickly Pear Cactus Over Eggs)


  • 4 to 6 hand-sized nopales
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 2 plum tomatoes, diced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Time estimates

Prep time: 20 minutes

Total time: 35 minutes


To prepare the nopales:

  1. Using a paring knife carefully remove hand-sized pads from the cactus plant.
  2. Rinse and drain on paper towels. Trim top and edges, being careful to remove spurs.
  3. Using serrated knife, scrape surface of nopales to remove thorns. Cut into half-inch sections.

To prepare the eggs:

  1. Beat eggs in large mixing bowl until blended, about two minutes.
  2. Over medium heat add oil to large skillet. Add onions and tomato. Sauté until onions are almost tender, about 3 minutes.
  3. Pour contents of mixing bowl into skillet. Cook gently, stirring until eggs firm. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook eggs in two batches if necessary. Serve hot.

Serves 4