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Stacked Nopales Quesadillas

Serves 4

Total Time
45 mins

With the brightness of cactus and smoky heat of chipotles, this is our favorite new way to make quesadillas. Blended corn-wheat tortillas get nice and crisp in the oven.

su-Stacked Nopales Quesadillas

Photo: Iain Bagwell


 3 medium nopales pads (12 oz. total), prepped (see "Nopales Basics," below); or buy strips
 2 teaspoons plus 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
 1 teaspoon lemon juice
 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
 3 to 4 tsp. minced canned chipotle chile, divided
 1 medium firm-ripe avocado, diced
 2 green onions, thinly sliced, divided
 3 1/2 cups (10 oz.) shredded jack cheese
 12 tortillas, about 5 in. wide, either a corn-wheat blend* or all corn
 2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
Step 1

Preheat oven to 500° with rack set in upper third. Meanwhile, cut nopales into 1/2- by 2-in. strips. In a frying pan, sauté nopales over high heat with 2 tsp. oil until pan is mostly dry, 5 minutes. Reduce heat; cook until barely tender, 3 minutes more. Set aside.

Step 2

In a bowl, whisk lemon juice, 1 tbsp. oil, 1/4 tsp. salt, and half of chipotle. Gently stir in avocado; set aside.

Step 3

In another bowl, toss remaining chipotle with half of onions and the cheese; set aside 3/4 cup. Toss nopales with remaining cheese mixture in bowl. Lightly brush tortillas on both sides with remaining 1 tbsp. oil; sprinkle on one side with remaining 1/2 tsp. salt.

Step 4

Set out 4 tortillas on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with half of nopales mixture. Repeat layers. Set remaining tortillas on top and sprinkle with reserved 3/4 cup cheese mixture.

Step 5

Bake stacks until golden and crisp at edges, 8 to 10 minutes. Set on plates. Toss avocado mixture with lettuce and remaining onions, then mound on stacks.

Step 6

Nopales Basics:

Step 7

BUY. Some supermarkets and Latino markets sell cactus with the spines, and others sell it de-stickered and ready to use--whole or cut up. When buying whole pads, look for ones that are smooth, crisp, and small to medium size.

Step 8

PREP. To remove spines from pads, put on dish gloves. Scrape a knife almost flat down the length of both sides of pads to shave off spines and barbed, fuzzy dots. Pare rims with a vegetable peeler. Trim bases; rinse pads.

Step 9

COOK. Once nopales hit the heat, they release a sticky juice (like okra), but it cooks off.

Step 10

*Find corn-wheat tortillas such as La Tortilla Factory Hand Made Style at many regular grocery stores and at

Nutrition Facts

Servings 0

Amount Per Serving
Calories 717Calories from Fat 50
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 40g62%

Saturated Fat 16g80%
Cholesterol 63mg21%
Sodium 1332mg56%
Total Carbohydrate 51g17%

Dietary Fiber 8.8g36%
Protein 35g70%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.