Before preparing nopales, you first need to remove their thorns. To remove thorns from cactus pads, lay one down on a cutting board. While wearing gloves, run the point of a sharp knife around them to cut off the outermost edge of each thorn. Then turn the knife and use the sharp edge to scrape the thorns off of the pad, repeating as necessary until they're all gone. Any stubs can usually be removed with a vegetable peeler.
Often sliced into strips before cooking (though they can be consumed raw), cactus pads can be simmered in water or stock, steamed, sautéed, grilled, or battered and deep fried. They’re great in salads, tacos (especially with grilled skirt steaks), egg dishes, salsas and soups.
Pair cactus pads with corn, tomatoes, chile peppers, cilantro, beef, eggs, and/or citrus fruit.
How to Grill Cactus Pads
Southwestern Cactus Burger Recipe