Recipe courtesy of Gina Pacheco

Tortilla-Free Cactus Quesadillas

  • Yield: 8 servings
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16 cactus paddles, or nopales, available in Latino markets and some supermarkets

2 cups Oaxaca cheese strings, or any other string cheese

Mexican Salsa (Yield: 1 cup):

2 tomatoes, chopped

1/2-cup chopped onion

2 serrano chiles

1/2-cup chopped cilantro

1 tsp.

juice of 1 lime


  1. Put a cactus paddle flat-side down on a work surface. Scrape a knife almost horizontally from narrow base of paddle toward wider end to cut off thorns. Scrape off thorns on each side of the paddle and trim all around edges. Repeat with remaining paddles. Heat a griddle over high heat and cook the cactus paddles until grill marks appear, flip them over. Top eight cactus paddles with string cheese and top cheese with the other eight paddles. When cheese is melted, cut each quesadilla in triangles and serve on a platter. 
  2. SALSA: In a non-reactive bowl combine tomatoes, onion, chiles, cilantro, salt and lime juice. Stir well. Let rest in the fridge for one hour before serving.