These vegan cactus tacos are as delicious-looking as they are good for the environment.
The vegan cactus tacos are a more sustainable option compared to al pastor tacos, which feature spit-grilled pork. Pork is the third worst emitter of greenhouse gases among all animal-derived meats. The production of pork is also resource-intensive. The amount of water that goes into producing one single serving of pork is also equivalent to 1,500 showers.
On the other hand, nopal—a type of cactus in Mexico that has grown for more than 7,000 years—thrives in drought conditions and requires less water. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has even called the nopal cactus, also known as prickly pear, a valuable food source.
“Climate change and the increasing risks of droughts are strong reasons to upgrade the humble cactus to the status of an essential crop in many areas,” Hans Dreyer, director of FAO’s Plant Production and Protection Division, said in a statement.
Nopal cactus is the perfect swap for al pastor tacos. Make a fresh, homemade black bean salsa to serve up with these vegan cactus tacos. Enjoy!
Vegan Cactus Tacos With Black Bean Salsa
- 2 nopales cactus paddles
- 1 cup white onion, sliced thinly
- 1 poblano pepper, seeded and sliced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon cumin, ground
- 1 teaspoon coriander, ground
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Corn tortillas
Black Bean Salsa
- 1 cup fresh corn
- 1 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 cup finely chopped white onion
- 1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped finely
- 1 Roma tomato, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 2 tablespoons limes juice
- 2 teaspoons lime zest
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Kosher salt and pepper to taste
- Radish, sliced avocado, vegan sour cream, and more cilantro to serve
Prepare the cactus by rinsing the leaves, scraping away nubs and spines, and slicing them into small strips. Rinse and dry.
Using a large pan over medium heat, add the olive oil, cactus strips, onion, poblano pepper, and garlic. Cook until the veggies are soft, translucent and liquid has evaporated.
Add the spices, mix. Set aside.
For the salsa: In a medium bowl combine the corn, black beans, onion, jalapeño, cilantro, lime juice and zest, tomato, olive oil, smoked paprika, and salt. Mix.
For assembly: Begin by warming your tortillas. Add the nopales and onion mixture in the bottom, top with the corn and black bean salsa. Garnish with avocado and vegan cream.