Open-Faced Grilled Cactus Leaf and Pepper Jack Sandwiches

This open-faced sandwich plays on taste and texture with tangy cactus leaves on crusty bread topped with semi-soft peppery Jack cheese. Photo: Melissa's

LOS ANGELES, March 22, 2013 — This recipe, another from 50 Best Plants on the Planet by Cathy Thomas, features cactus leaves: paddles or nopales. They have a taste and texture similar to a slightly tart green bean.

Filled with natural anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory chemicals, the prickly succulents also lower triglycerides (bad fats that accumulate in blood), strengthen bones, and reduce symptoms of overindulgence in alcohol.

SEE RELATED: 50 Best Plants on the Planet

And all this in a tasty sandwich!


Recipe and photo courtesy Melissa’s World Produce

Yields 4 servings

SEE RELATED: Endive boats with green olive, parsley and walnut salad


2 C 1/2-inch strips cleaned raw cactus leaves

1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced  

Grilled cactus paddle sandwiches

Grilled cactus paddle sandwiches

2 T extra-virgin olive oil

Coarse salt (kosher or sea)

Freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 T seasoned rice vinegar

1 T chopped fresh cilantro

4 slices rustic whole-grain bread, about 3/8 inch thick

1 garlic clove, peeled

8 ounces pepper Jack cheese, thinly sliced


Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

In a bowl, toss together the cactus, onion, and 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil.

Season with salt and pepper. Spread the mixture in a grill basket or on a grill pan. Do not wash the bowl.

Grill until the vegetables are slightly charred and softened, about 5 minutes.

Return them to the bowl and toss with the vinegar and cilantro. Brush one side of each piece of bread with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil.

Grill the bread, oiled-side down, until golden. Rub the browned sides with the garlic. Place the bread toasted-side up and top with the cactus-onion mixture and cheese. Place on the grill and close the lid.

Grill just long enough to melt the cheese, about 1 minute; watch carefully because bread burns easily. Serve hot.

50 Best Plants on the Planet

50 Best Plants on the Planet

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Linda Mensinga

Linda Mensinga was editor of Culinary Trends for 15 years, now a contributing writer. Researching restaurants and hotels, she interviews the best and brightest chefs, not necessarily the most famous, to learn their secrets and recipes. Their talent and dedication never cease to inspire her. 

Mrs. Mensinga is happily food obsessed and fortunate enough to be married to a chef. 

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