Opuntia or prickly pear cactus produce edible fruit. Native to South America, they were introduced into my country and have become invasive. There is a patch of them growing near my place and I heard that the young leaves are also edible, they are called nopales. I cut off some this size and some larger ones.
Next, you have to cut the spines off. It's easy with a sharp knife but is a prickly, slimy business. Gloves are recommended, although I didn't use any. Check for any loose spines and wash with water.
Next, the leaves were sliced into strips and put in a pan with a littl bit of oil and sauteed with Garlic, salt, cumin seeds and a stock cube. There's no need to add water as the leaves contain plenty. I left them to simmer uncovered for a while, stirring occasionally.
The leaves cooked quickly and are tender but firm
The verdict? Very tasty: crunchy, tender texture and the flavour is a little like green beans.
I'll definitely cook these again although next time I'll use gloves and an apron when cleaning the leaves as I am still picking prickles out of my fingers. That's the only drawback to eating prickly pear fruit as well. The spines aren't a problem, it's the glochid spines, aka prickles that are a pain to deal with.