A large flat fleshy oval green pad of the nopal cactus prepared as a vegetable in the Southwestern United States and Mexico. When cooked, pieces have the appearance of cooked green pepper, but with a slimy texture like okra. For this reason, if no other, an acquired taste.
Usually when sold in Hispanic markets, the paddles have their spines removed, or are from a spineless variety of cactus. Use rubber gloves to remove the spines, if present. Prepare cactus pads by oiling and grilling them whole, or boiling for 10 to 15 minutes, then rinsing well to remove the stickiness.
The 1997 edition of Joy of Cooking includes a recipe for a roasted cactus salad which combines cactus paddles with salsa.
Cactus paddles are used by sadistic parents in desert environments to discipline recalcitrant children. In such instances neither the parent nor the cactus paddle is, generally speaking, of the spineless variety.