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Mexican Red Chili with Cactus (Nopales con Chili Rojo)

2 cups peeled cactus, cut into ½” by 2” strips
4 to 5 dried New Mexico chili pods, stems and seeds removed
4 small tomatoes
½ onion
½ cup cilantro—use stems and leaves
4 garlic cloves
2 teaspoons oregano
1 ½ teaspoons salt (optional)

Place the cactus in a medium saucepan and fill with water to 1” above the cactus. Bring to a boil, lower heat to a simmer and cook for about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the cactus and set aside in a separate bowl. Place the chili pods in the medium saucepan and put just enough water to cover the chilies. Bring to a boil, lower heat to a simmer and cook for about 5 to 6 minutes until chilies are soft. Transfer soft chilies from the saucepan to a blender, reserving the chili-water. Place the remaining ingredients, except for the cactus, into the blender with about a half cup of the chili-water. Blend until nice and fluid but with some small chunks remaining, adding more chili-water if necessary to create desired consistency. Pour out the unused chili-water from the saucepan. Add the chili blend to the saucepan and place on medium-low heat. Add the cactus to the chili blend and simmer for about 15 minutes. Serve hot with warm tortillas.


★★★★★ 5 out of 5 stars—Best ever!

This has to be the easiest and best chili I’ve ever made. I know that a true Nutritarian would omit the salt completely but, in my opinion, it does bring out the flavor of the New Mexico chilies. I opted to use the salt and it proves I am still aspiring to become 100% Nutritarian. Cactus may be purchased whole, in which case it must be peeled and cut by you, or, if you’re lucky, you may find it peeled, cut and prepackaged in your local grocery store like I did—it’s a great convenience. Use this chili as a soft taco filling or as a topping for tostadas over beans and baked corn tortillas, or simply consume it by itself. It may just become your new comfort food.

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