Nopales are an edible cactus native to the Americas, and commonly cultivated in Mexico, the southwest US, and California. The plant produces both fruit and vegetable food for humans. The fruit is called “tuna” in Spanish and “prickly pear” in English. The large fresh leaves called “nopales” are a classic item in Mexican cuisine where they re enjoyed in tacos, in a salad with, mixed with with meat, scrambled with eggs, or just grilled and salted. They are the most tender in the spring, but can be harvested most of the summer in Santa Cruz. The plants live for years and benefit from regular harvesting. Each spring the plant sends out new lobes; it is the job of the gardener to harvest those so the plant doesn’t get overgrown. You can leave a few new leaves a few each year to allow the plant to grow in size.
The 3rd annual Festival Del Nopal is Happening in Santa Cruz on July 22nd. Lots of good food, fun, friends, dancing, music, art and more.