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Cactus salad with toasted chilies
6 to 8 servings

1 1/2 pounds fresh cactus leaves (nopales)
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large white onions, halved, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup canned chicken broth
Salt, freshly ground pepper to taste
2/3 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro (coriander), chopped
1/2 cup fresh grated asiago or Parmesan cheese
2 chilies pasilla, toasted, optional

Using a small paring knife or vegetable peeler, carefully remove
the "eyes" (where the thorns were) on the cactus leaves. Cut leaves
into 1/2-inch wide strips.

Heat butter and oil in large skillet until hot. Add onions and
garlic; saute for 2 minutes. Add cactus leaves. Saute over high
heat for 5 minutes. Stir in chicken broth. Heat to boil; reduce
heat. Simmer, covered, until leaves are crisp-tender, about 15

Uncover and simmer until broth is almost evaporated, about 5 minutes.
Remove from heat. Stir in salt, pepper and half of the cilantro.
Transfer to a serving platter. Sprinkle with remaining cilantro
and the cheese. Crumble and sprinkle the toasted chilies over all.
Serve warm or at room temperature.

Notes: Fresh cactus leaves are available at large supermarkets and
Mexican groceries.

Chilies pasilla are long, dark, dried chilies. To toast, wipe
clean with dry cloth, put whole chilies into a hot, dry, heavy
skillet. Cook, turning often, until chilies darken and become
aromatic, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Chilies
will be brittle when cooled.


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