Tepary and similar beans, as well as and cactus pear pads (“nopalitos" in Spanish), have been shown to benefit blood sugar control, in both scientific research and Native American medicine. This indigenous, citrusy casserole can be a flavorful alternative to the green-beans-and-onions dish that frequents modern-day celebrations.

An easy meal-in-one casserole with much-loved flavors.

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  • Preparation Time

    15 minutes

  • Cooking Time

    40 minutes

  • Difficulty Rating


  • Health Level


  • Serves



  1. 4 oz. (⅔ cup) / 114 g uncooked white tepary or similar beans such as pinto or black-eyed peas (cowpeas), cleaned and soaked for at least 12 hours or canned and drained
  2. 2 tsp. / 9 g high-oleic sunflower/safflower or olive oil
  3. 3 cups / 270 g nopalitos (cactus pear pads), despined and julienned or 12 oz. / 340 g jarred, drained, and rinsed
  4. 2 medium-large spring green onions (scallions), cut into 2-inch/5-cm pieces or:
    • ½ cup / 24 g fresh chives, cut as above
  5. 3 cloves fresh garlic, crushed or minced or:
    • 1 tsp. / 3 g granulated/powdered
  6. 1 Tbsp. / 8 g ground sumac and/or sweet chili pepper
  7. 2 Tbsp. / 3 g fresh wild or regular* oregano leaves, finely chopped or:
    • 2 tsp. / 3 g dried
  8. 1 Tbsp. / 6 lemon zest, shredded
  9. Salt to taste, ideally Native American saltpan type (optional)
  10. * If using regular oregano, add ¼ tsp. cinnamon.


  1. If using dried or raw soaked beans, boil in 1 quart of water until tender, about 1-2 hours. Remove from heat, drain, and place in a lidded 2-quart/liter casserole dish. If using canned, drained beans, add these to the casserole dish.
  2. Preheat oven to 300°F / 150°C.
  3. In a nonstick lidded sauté pan, warm oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, and sauté until lighly browned.
  4. Add the nopalitos and oregano, cover, and lower heat. Simmer for 3-5 minutes if using jarred nopalitos, or 6-8 minutes if using fresh; stir occasionally.
  5. Add sautéed mixture to the beans, along with the sumac/chili pepper and salt (if desired).
  6. Top with lemon zest, cover, and bake for 30 minutes.
  7. Best served hot. Freezes well!

Serving size:½ cup / 200 g

Exchanges per Serving: ½ Carb, ½ Protein, 0 Fat

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Comments 2

  1. Hi, rellac cactus pads/leaves (known as nopal or nopales) are available in the grocery section of many grocery stores. If you don’t find them there, you can order them here: http://www.melissas.com/Cactus-Leaves-Nopales-p/134.htm.
    Aztec salt is available at health-oriented stores such as Whole Foods Market (closest to you is in Virginia Beach, VA – Address: 1800 Laskin Rd, Tel. 757-422-0444, Hours
    7:00 AM – 9:00 PM), and you can also order it through Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Aztec-Sea-Salt-Unrefined-Himalayan/dp/B00AYIQH1E), along with anything else you can’t find in the supermarket (such as sumac, http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Dgrocery&field-keywords=sumac).

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