Nopales and Potatoes Breakfast Hash

Start the day strong with a spicy skillet breakfast that’s packed full of fresh veggies and vibrant Southwest flavors. Sautéed cactus (aka nopales) blends in seamlessly with the onions and peppers, which dot this dish with bursts of natural sweetness to balance out the hearty potatoes. A handful of fiber-rich kale rounds out this wholesome dish with leafy greens that soak up the garlicky, smoky spices like a tasty sponge. You can dial the heat up or down by controlling how much fresh jalapeño you use; be sure to remove the seeds and ribs if you like things less mild. Serve with whole grain toast to round out the meal.

How to Prep and De-Spine Nopales

You can often find de-spined nopales in Mexican grocery stores. But if you need to clean the paddles yourself, here’s how to do it safely:

  1. Lay one nopal flat on a cutting board. Use a clean kitchen towel to protect your hands from the thorny spines as you hold the paddle steady.
  2. Lay a sharp knife flat against the nopal’s surface, and sweep it across the paddle to slice away the spines. (You can also use a vegetable peeler.) Next, run the knife around the perimeter of the nopal to trim away the outer edge of skin.
  3. Wipe the paddles with a paper towel to remove any slime, aka baba. (Wait to rinse until just before using, as water activates the release of baba.)

For more vegan breakfast hash recipes, check out these tasty ideas:

By Darshana Thacker Wendel,


  • 3 paddles nopales, cleaned and cut into ½-inch squares (3 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 lb. Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into ¾-inch cubes (3 cups)
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 8 or 9 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 fresh jalapeño chile, seeded and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground chipotle chile pepper
  • 1 cup finely chopped fresh kale
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • Whole grain bread, toasted, or crackers


  • In a large saucepan combine nopales, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and 4 cups water. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes or until the nopales turn dull olive green; drain. Rinse under cold water; drain well.
  • In a large skillet combine potatoes, onion, bell pepper, garlic, jalapeño, chipotle chile pepper, and ¼ cup water. Cook over medium 10 to 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally and adding water, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, as needed to prevent sticking.
  • Add nopales and kale to skillet with veggies. Cook 5 to 7 minutes more or until kale is wilted, stirring occasionally and adding water, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, as needed to prevent sticking. If desired, use a fork or potato masher to gently mash potato into smaller pieces.
  • Add the remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice and season with salt and black pepper. Mix well. Garnish with cilantro and serve with toast or crackers.

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Added Green Curry Paste and grated ginger and turmeric turning this into a fantastic Indian dish and served it over rice! If I'd had coconut milk I'd have added a little of that!

About the Author

Headshot of Darshana Thacker

About the Author

Darshana Thacker Wendel

Darshana Thacker Wendel is a whole-food, plant-based chef and former culinary projects manager for Forks Over Knives. A graduate of the Natural Gourmet Institute, she is the author of Forks Over Knives: Flavor! She created the recipes for Forks Over Knives Family and was a lead recipe contributor to the New York Times bestseller The Forks Over Knives Plan. Her recipes have been published in The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook, Forks Over Knives—The Cookbook, Forks Over Knives: The Plant-Based Way to Health, and LA Yoga magazine online. Visit and follow her on Instagram for more.
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