Read the title and it may cause some confusion. Eat prickly plants? How can that be? Sounds like a very unsatisfying food. This may seem like a strange meal, but it actually can be quite tasteful. They can be made into salads or soups. Nopal is a cactus from Mexico that can be actually eaten. The nopal is a very important plant in Mexican culture. The Aztecs used this plant to feed themselves and their livestock. It was also used as a salve for wounds, among many other uses. Walk into any grocery store in either Queens, Manhattan, or also in Brooklyn and you may find nopal in the fruit and vegetable section.
At first glance, it may seem impossible to enjoy this prickly cactus, but it must be edible if it is in the grocery store. Right? Right! Buy one and be adventurous. Wash the cactus while handling with care. The needles can be painful. While holding the cactus by its stem, cut off each needle on both sides. Wash again to be sure all the needles have been taken off. Then, slice of the stem diagonally. Sprinkle with olive oil and salt and place on the grill. Flip the pieces until both sides are grilled well. Take then off of the grill and cut the cactus into little squares. While still hot, you can toss some shredded cheese over it to add some fun. At first, the taste may seem odd, but it actually tastes like asparagus or string beans. Serve along with rice and enjoy!