How To Clean Cactus Paddles: Use rubber gloves or tongs when handling cactus paddles. Place cactus, flat-side down, on cutting board. Holding the base of the cactus paddle, use a sharp knife at a 45° angle to shave or scrape off spines and bumps (nodules). Repeat on other side of cactus until all spines are removed. Using a sharp knife or scissors, cut a thin strip along the edge of the cactus paddle to remove the thick woody end of the base. Rinse well under running water; pat dry.
Substitution Tip: If fresh cactus paddles are unavailable, substitute 2 cups jarred tender cactus, drained, rinsed and cut into 3/4-inch pieces. Omit cooking step.