Unusual Authentic Mexican Recipes: Cactus and Cambray Onion Side Dish

Alright, here’s a different authentic Mexican side dish that goes great with taco recipes or a good enchilada recipe. In Mexican food, you’ll very rarely see tacos or meat anywhere served alone on a dish; the plate is always dressed up with a side dish of some kind. So here’s one of many traditional authentic Mexican recipes that can be served as such when cooking tacos, to give the dish that extra Mexican touch and make it truly authentic.

authentic Mexican recipes cactus and cambray side dish

Cactus and Cambray Onion are tasty vegetables that add a bit of dietary balance to the plate when you serve them up with tacos–something that is often missing in the Mexican food that I notice people often make OUTSIDE the country of Mexico, in Tex-Mex cuisine and similar derivatives of Mexican recipes, for example–and they taste amazing when you do them right. And I’d definitely label these in the same class of difficulty to cook as the other easy Mexican recipes I’ve posted on this site: they’re super simple to make and I think you’d have a harder time messing them up than getting them perfect! So on that encouraging note, here we go:

authentic Mexican recipes cambray onion


– 2 prickly cacti “leaves”, for lack of a better word. Mexicans call these “nopales”. Each nopale serves one person, so this particular recipe will serve two, just for reference.
– 4 Mexican chive bulbs (aka “cambray onion” bulbs)
– 1 tbs olive oil
– salt

authentic Mexican recipes cacti nopales


Preheat a pan with 1 tbs olive oil.

Using a sharp knife, cut a dozen slits down the length of each cactus leaf, from the outside edge down to the stem of the leaf, but not all the way through the other side of the leaf (the stem side). You should be left with a kind of “cactus fan”, and with each cactus leaf cut up like this, add them to the pan and turn up to medium heat.

Cook them until they are a dark yellow-brown color and soft. The water inside the nopale cacti leaves will boil from the inside out and bubble and pop out while cooking. Cook the nopales until they’re dark, soft and tender, looking like a kind of fried, golden seaweed. This should take about 10-12 minutes.

When done, add to the side of a plate of tacos, or any other of your favorite authentic Mexican recipes, and then cook the cambray onion bulbs:

Salt the chive bulbs and add to a heated pan and roast them.

Remove and add two to each plate, along with the nopale cacti leaves, and enjoy!

Authentic Mexican recipes like this are very common throughout mainland Mexico. If you travel to Mexico City, D.F., you’ll find all sorts of local Mexican food recipes with side dishes like this being served at the street stalls and inside the nicer restaurants, as well as in millions of Chilango homes! I hope you enjoy cooking this, yet another of many easy Mexican recipes that anybody can cook without much effort! Happy dining!

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