Hmm, I buy nopales at the local market and they are easily handled and spines removed with a knife dragged parrallel to the surface of the pad on a cutting board. I guess the variety found in stores is less gnarly. I started 12 paddles in one gallon pots of cactus mix and hopefully in the spring I can plant out and be eating my own this time next year.
Substitute fresh, trimmed and cubed (1/2 inch) dice cactus for okra in any jambalaya recipe.
I like to make mine more paleo friendly with very little rice...maybe 1/4 cup of dried rice for a recipe that serves six and really pile in the veggies: tomatoes, green and red pepper, zucchini, celery, onion, okra and nopales. It is a great summer, autumn dish to use up the garden bounty.
I also love nopales diced and lightly sauted and folded into scrambled eggs or as omelet filling with some goat cheese.
They go well in Indian food....substitute for okra... I esp like with tamarind sauce.
The entire paddle is excellent when cleaned, bushed with olive oil and sprinkled with garlic salt and then grilled. I always grill extra to add to tortilla soup or ratatouille or have in eggs.