Return to El Nopal: Nopal Siempre!

Blessed are the vegans for they shall inherit the earth.

Even more blessed are those who can create a culinary masterpiece out of a weed.

Louisvillians take the regional El Nopal chain for granted. El Nopals seem to be everywhere. They’re cheap, good, and seemingly always open.

But where else, I ask you, are you going to find cactus on the menu? Nopal is Spanish for cactus, by the way.

The crime partner and I were out celebrating the astonishing fact that we’re still above ground.

So we went to El Nopal and broadened our horizons by splitting a cactus tostado and a dish made with epazote.

Both were, in my opinion, delicious. But you have to have an open mind because things you’ve never tasted before taste like things you’ve never tasted before. Not like chicken.

Cactus, it turns out, is very mild and pairs very well with a strong cheese. In this case, it was paired with goat cheese. The taste of cactus, as it turns out, is kind of a cross between cantaloupe and cooked broccolini.

I recommend the cactus tostados instead of nachos. You get the same experience: crunch, cheese, savory flavors, great with beer. But a lot healthier than the nachos at Applebee’s.

Tostado de nopal

I have decided not to call anything a super food. There are too many foods vying for that title: blueberries, sweet potatoes, bamboo, kale, quinoa, to name the most vaunted.

But, when I researched the nutrition profile of cactus, it was quite impressive. The word antioxidants kept cropping up, as did multiple vitamins, manganese, calcium, and potassium.

We also ordered the quesadillas de huitlacoche which are soft tortillas stuffed with epazote and mushrooms.

Epazote was also a new thing for me. It is a wild growing herb. It tastes a little weedy, but that’s not, IMHO, a bad thing. It’s a flavor I could quickly get used to if it were growing in my back yard.

This is wild epazote.

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