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  • Writer's pictureThe Rough & Tumble

Kickstarter Cactus Tacos! (with a side of tomatillo salsa)

Happy Kickstarter Day!

Kickstarter Cactus Tacos!

Listen, we aren't experts on anything. Just ask us. But since we were so close to our southern friends' border, and really wanted an alliteration for Kickstarter, we decided to pick up some foods we have generally only found local to the Southwest. Which is how we ended up here, informing you on how to cook cactus when we are doing it for the first time. But it worked out for us, and we hope it fills your belly as you click the "donate" button on our Kickstarter campaign for our new record "We Made Ourselves a Home When We Didn't Know."

Scott removing the spines with exceeding patience and cool black lab gloves our sister Devon gave us.

Aside from a prickly pear margarita Scott had once in Flagstaff, AZ a couple years ago, cactus wasn't exactly in our food rotation. If you are a bit squeamish about okra, be sure to cook your cactus well enough to get the extra slime out. We actually found a pretty helpful site that gives the ins and outs on preparing nopales (cactus). You can find that here. It also helps if someone in your house is very patient and enjoys tedious tasks such as cutting individual cactus spines at a 45 degree angle from a cactus paddle. Someone like Scott, for instance. Like Kickstarter campaigns, cactus tacos come with the threat of pain, regret, and fear of not reaching your goal. But once you can slop the final result on your plate with a side of homemade tomatillo salsa, it's 100% worth it.

Some of our fancy south-of-the-border ingredients for the night!

So, without further ado, here is November 2017's edition of The Rumbly Tummy: Kickstarter Cactus Tacos! (with a side of tomatillo salsa).

Kickstarter Cactus Tacos! (with a side of tomatillo salsa)


(for the cactus)

3-4 nopales (cactus paddles), spines removed and rinsed thoroughly (see link above to help you!)

1 clove garlic

2-3 TBSP quick heat oil (like canola or coconut)

salt & pepper

(for the salsa)

4-5 fresh tomatillos, husked and rinsed in warm water to remove stickiness

1/4 white onion, diced

1 jalapeno, deveined and seeded and finely diced

1/2 lemon

1-2 TBSP honey

1 tsp cumin

salt & pepper

(for the extras, all optional, all what we did)

4-6 corn tortillas, heated each side in dry skillet til warm and toasty

1 cup shredded purple cabbage

1 avocado, seeded and cut into long strips

1 poblano pepper, roasted, and chopped (see our blog on Roasted Poblano Corn Chowder for a little extra help on this).

2 lime slices


1. Once the cactus is ready, you're going to want to slap it all together and eat it right away. So whatever extras you want on your taco tonight, prepare your extras, set aside.

Our little extras, ready to be tacos.

2. The salsa tastes best once it sits for a few minutes, so chop your tomatillos, toss into a bowl with the onion and jalapeño. Then, squeeze in the fresh lemon, add the honey, cumin and salt. Stir. Taste. Add according to taste. Let rest.

3. Now we are cooking! If you have a grill, start firing it up. If you have an oven, set it to broil on high. If you have a little gas camper stove like us, hold on a second. We have cactus to ready.

4. After you've removed all spines (again, see above link), cut 3-5 slits in the front and back of the paddle. Crush one garlic clove under your knife. Remove the husk. Then smear that garlic clove all over the front and back of each paddle, letting the oils sink in. Then, take the oil and the salt in your hand (yup, in your hand-- unless you have a better idea) and massage it onto the paddle. Now you're ready for that grill or oven. If you have a camper stove, this is the point you should light it. Then...

5. Place the cactus paddles on the fire! They are going to sizzle and crackle and drip weird oozey stuff all over the place. It's amazing, and almost better than fireworks. So if you're looking for entertainment on the cheap, this is your jam. Let each side get nice and charred, until there is little to no ooze dripping, anymore, from the various slits (in hindsight, we think we would have cut about a 1/4" from each edge to help in drip faster). This will take about 10-15 minutes. Remove from fire.

6. Cut your cactus into 1/4" strips. If you find that it's still a little oozy for your liking (like we did, since we didn't have a very good grilling technique), consider throwing the strips back in a small pan with that leftover garlic clove. It's tasty and makes for zero waste.

7. Place cactus strips onto tortillas, top with your already prepared extras, and then top THAT with your tomatillo salsa. If you aren't eating vegan, add some sour cream or greek yogurt-- or, if you are like us an find some weird vegan gluten free dip thing in a grocery store on clearance in Durango, CO, top it with that, instead (Thanks, Good Lovin'!).

Taco Night is the Best Night.

WAIT! That's usually it, right? The normal end of our delicious food blog stops with a fancy, edited picture of what we ate after we made it, and you scanning briefly through a few hashtags before moving on with your lunch, er, day. But we have one last thing. In case you hadn't heard, we are running a Kickstarter. And one of the rewards is this blog coming to life-- it's The Rumbly Tummy Cook & Color book, and it'll be pages of not-yet-colored drawings, recipes we haven't released yet that we've enjoyed for years on the road, and a few stories and pointers and jokes typed in, too. And it'll be all handmade. So if you've really loved the warm company of The Rumbly Tummy, maybe you should consider donating to get a copy. Or, if you are looking to make a donation in a smaller bracket, but still want a Cook & Color book, we can work out a deal. Just email us and let us know! Okay, on with the hashtags.

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