Sam Clark

Tofu & Nopales Rice Bowl

This dish was a combination of “wow I found this cool vegetable!” and “I need dinner in 30 minutes.” Simple, nutritious, and full of flavor, this dish is sure to please. All ingredients listed serve 2-3.


  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked protein, seasoned to your choice (I used tofu in a cumin/chili powder/tajin sprinkle)
  • 1-2 medium nopal (prickly pear cactus) leaves, thorns removed
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 green bell or poblano pepper
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 2 handfuls cilantro
  • 1 lime or 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 fresh jalapeño (optional)
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil


  1. Slice the white onion once end-to-end, and then into thin half-moon shapes.
  2. Combine 1/2 of the sliced onion and white vinegar in a small bowl to pickle, and set aside.
  3. Slice your pepper long ways, and remove the seeds and pith from inside.
  4. Lightly coat the pepper with olive oil and add skin side up to your air fryer at 400ºF. Cook for 10-12 minutes or until skin is blistered but not burned.
  5. While the pepper is cooking, slice your nopales into long, thin strips. Be careful with the knife as these can be very slippery!
  6. Add the remaining olive oil to a large pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the nopales and cook for 10 minutes, or until most liquid has evaporated.
  7. Add other 1/2 of onion to the pan and cook until just transparent 1-2 minutes. If there is any stuck-on food at the bottom, add a splash of red wine to deglaze the pan. Remove from heat & set aside.
  8. Remove pepper from air fryer and cut into thin strips.

Assemble the dish! Add some rice to the bottom of the bowl in a flat base. On top, add your protein, followed by the pepper, nopales, and pickled onion. You can top with some chopped cilantro and lime, and if you’re like my partner, fresh jalapeño or some very spicy hot sauce. 🔥

Side notes:
Instead of an air fryer, you may use an oven but this may take a bit more time and you may not get quite as nice of a blister.
Shimmering oil has a certain look to it, but you can also wet your hands, flick a drop of water into the pan, and listen for a sizzle. If it’s immediate, you’re ready to go!
Deglazing is one of my favorite techniques. It allows you to preserve that golden-brown goodness that builds up on the pan, add a bit more flavor with a splash of wine, and it makes clean up so much easier… no more scrubbing!

© 2023, Sam Clark