Eggs with Cactus in Salsa Verde

Given the surprisingly wide range of Mexican egg dishes, I felt that it was high time that I share a recipe with this classic ingredient.   I decided on huevos ahogados con nopales en salsa verde (literally translated as drowned eggs with cactus in a green sauce) because it’s a dish that I cook a lot and it’s easy, cheap and very tasty.

Huevos ahogados are generally served for lunch in fondas (diners), restaurants and in homes throughout Mexico and are frequently eaten during Lent.  I think this recipe is great at any time of the day and regularly prepare variations of this dish for breakfast, lunch and dinner with leftover salsas.  This version, however, calls specifically for green salsa, which appears to be the more common way of eating huevos ahogados.  The recipe also includes cooked cactus, an ingredient characteristic of central Mexican that is both healthy and rich in fiber.

Buying Cactus (Nopales)If there are no Mexicans where you live I would imagine that it is going to be difficult to find cactus because this is a quintessentially Mexican ingredient.   If you are unable to find nopales you can always prepare the dish without them or replace it with another vegetable such as mushrooms or bell peppers.Nopales are generally sold in the States in Mexican supermarkets as either as full cactus paddles with the spines removed or cut up into small strips and sold in bags.  Buying either is fine.  The only difference is that if you buy the cactus paddles you have to cut them.

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Serves:  4

Salsa Verde

  • 1 pound of tomatillos
  • 1 small onion quartered
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 ½ cups of water
  • 2-4 chiles serranos, stems removed (depending on how how spicy you want the salsa to be add more or less chiles)
  • ¼ cup of fresh cilantro
  • salt to taste
  • a pinch of oregano
  • a pinch of sugar
  • Olive or vegetable oil

Boil water in a medium sized pot. When the water is boiling add the onion, garlic, tomatillos and chiles.  Cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until the color of the tomatillos has darkened and the skin has become transparent.  Place the boiled ingredients in a blender and add the cilantro, oregano, salt and sugar and blend.  Heat oil in a medium pot and add the sauce.  Cook for 3 to 5 minutes and add the water. Stir, cook for another 10 minutes on low heat and check for salt.

 Cactus

  • 1 lb of cactus (about 4 medium sized paddles), cut into strips about 1 ½ inches long and ½ inch wide

Boil water in a large pot, add the cactus strips and cook for 15 to 20 minutes to remove the slime.  When the nopales are ready they should have softened and darkened in color.  They will have a slightly bitter taste.  Rinse in cold water and set aside.

Eggs

  • 2 eggs per serving
  • Fresh cheese (queso fresco, queso ranchero or salty, slightly bland cheese you have on hand) for garnish
  • Avocado slices for garnish
  • Tortillas

Each portion has 2 eggs, 1 ½ cups of sauce and ½ cup of cactus.  You can make just one serving in a small pan or up to 4 servings in a wide pan or large pot.

Preparation:

Heat the sauce and cactus in a pan.  When hot add eggs, cover, lower to medium heat and cook until the eggs are poached to your liking.

Serve sprinkled with cheese, sliced avocado, beans and hot tortillas.

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