Goodbye, peas and carrots—try growing these unusual, and lesser-known, vegetables
Origin: Mexico and the Southwest
Definition: The nopal (no-pahl) is good to eat, tasting like green beans and bell peppers with the texture of okra. Leaves (paddles) that are about 8 inches long are best.
Synonyms: The fruit is called prickly pear or tuna.
Use: Peel off paddles’ thorns with a vegetable peeler (easy), then slice and sauté with onions, melt in some jack cheese, and eat with tortillas.
Grow it: Nopal grows best in the mild, dry parts of the West. Slice off a paddle from an existing plant, wait a few weeks for a callus to form, and stick it an inch into the ground. For harvesting, gloves are necessary. No nopales around? Check with your nursery.