…the prickly pear cactus, a humble plant that, according to a new book co-published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, can serve as a lifesaving crop for many countries…
“It’s actually a fairly amazing crop that can grow in most dry areas of the world,” Makiko Taguchi, a cactus expert at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, told Earther. “And the dry areas of the world are expanding in some places.”
It’s been a very hot weekend (Record heat throughout Berkeley, San Francisco and Oakland? Yes!) so it’s what you want. Right now.
Incredibly addictive, this sherbet offers a celebration of refreshing and complementary flavor in every spoonful. The cool dragon fruit is faintly milky, citrusy and herbal with its gentle infusion of lemongrass. Meanwhile, the strawberry layer offers a hint of tartness and a welcome trace of classic berry sweetness.
1 1/2 ounces (about 1 1/2 stalks, depending on size) fresh lemongrass
3/4 cup canned light coconut milk (not full-fat)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 ounces fresh ripe strawberries
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons light, somewhat neutral liquor of your choice, at least 80 proof (think vodka, light rum or a clear fruit brandy)
2 1/4 to 2 1/2 pounds dragon fruit (about 3 medium dragon fruit)
That is some delicious looking large red cactus fruit, aka Tunas, Prickly Pears, Sabras, nōchtli and more names! This is on one of our larger Opuntia robusta plants. When they get in the ground they can produced a lot of fruit, just for you if that’s what you want, or for all your neighbors and friends too, if you have neighbors and friends. I always prefer to eat my prickly pears by blending them in with my margaritas. Delicious, and healthy!
Prickly Pear Margarita Recipe
Using Prickly Pear Juice
Restaurant Cocktail Recipe
Preparation time: 3 minutes. Serves 1
2 ounces Tequila
3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce prickly pear juice
1/2 ounce Cointreau
Lime slice for garnish
I have a large pricklypear cactus growing outside my back door. Most years… it produces large numbers of dark pruple-red fruits. I make these into either jelly or syrup, depending on whether it sets or not. This year, I turned my less bountiful harvest into a variation on cranberry sauce–the jellied kind….
24 or so ripe pricklypear cactus fruits
1 bag fresh cranberries.
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 box pectin
3 cups sugar
Orange County has a lot of prickly pear cactus growing, so the local newspaper, the OC Register, recommends you eat your share of the delicious green vegetable. Not only do they say it’s delicious, but it’s rich in anti-oxidants too. So it must be good!
You won’t be able to read the whole article unless you are a OC Register subscriber, which I am not. So I haven’t been able to verify that there recipes are worth the effort. But the picture looks good.
It isn’t every day you discover an entirely new ingredient, something you had no idea existed let alone tasted this good. But that’s exactly what happened to us, the NBC Latino crew, while we attended the Culinary Institute of America’s Latin Flavor, American Kitchens conference last week in San Antonio.
It happened when we stepped into the kitchen with Roberto Santibañez, the chef-owner of New York’s Fonda restaurants (in Brooklyn and Manhattan) and author of “Truly Mexican” and the soon-to-be released “Tacos, Tortas and Tamales.” First, he taught us to call the ingredient by its name: xoconostle. (Pronounced: choko-nose-leh.) It is, he went on, the fruit of the cactus plant and similar to a prickly pear, which in recent years has grown in popularity, its sweet flesh often used to flavor margaritas. But the xoconostle is sour and tart instead and typically used to make salsas in Mexico.
Interesting! I wonder what that is. I’ve never heard that name for a cactus fruit. But first the recipe:
1 pound xoconostles (about 9)
2 small dried chipotle chiles, or 5 dried árbol chiles, wiped clean
1 medium garlic clove, peeled
Kosher salt, to taste
Simple! Click through for the instructions.
And now, for your fun and kicks, the xoconostle is the fruit from the Opuntia joconostle. It looks similar to tunas, but it tastes different, and most importantly the seeds are all grouped in the center rather than spread throughout the flesh.
La Mexicana Cactus Peeler (Pelador de Nopales) makes it easier for you to peel cactus for your nopalitos! La Mexicana products are made with full analysis of designs and compatability to serve you with comfort in your cooking lifestyle.
I’m guessing you would use it for a recipe like this:
So now we’ve hit the true test of our ability to run a retail plant nursery. We are now making our own cactus products. Or product – in this case soap. Cactus Soap!
That’s Olive Oil soap – no glycerin or other fillers – from locally sourced organic certified olives. Plus real prickly pear fruit, and three different scents: Peppermint with Mint Leaves; Grapefruit, Lemongrass with Oatmeal; and Clove and Apricot Kernel, in a thick 5.3oz bar.
See the thing is, there are lots of fancy glycerin soaps out there, but it’s tough to find a top quality pure soap, hand or facial. So we made it ourselves.
Now someone else can post on their blog all about the silly cactus soap they found at the Cactus Jungle. Hah!
Prickly pears are delicious. Atlantans eat them too.
If you’re enjoying a cactus pad salad, are you eating leaves or are you eating stems? Just looking at a pad, it’s hard to know. I’m talking about the fleshy oval pads of Opuntia, the prickly pear cactus, also known as the Indian fig for its rosy oblong fruits.
Stems or leaves, leaves or stems. Hmmmm. Stems? Leaves?
Nice, and it turns out there’s a class for cactus salad prep in Atlanta coming up.
9:30 a.m. Saturday, April 7. Chef Ron Eyester, Rosebud. Morningside Farmers Market, Atlanta. www.morningsidemarket.com
Papago Cactus Salad
Hands on: 15 minutes
Total time: 15 minutes
And finally, the answer that you may have been waiting for, but probably not….
1. Slice nopales into thin strips. Saute in olive oil till just browned, but not soft.
2. When cool, toss with other ingredients. Add more lime , if necessary.
3. Serve in a chilled bowl, or iceberg lettuce cups, or on a crisp tortilla. Sprinkle with queso fresco.
Cheryl Marquez grows her own cactus for nopales dishes at her Tortilla Flats restaurant in Soquel (Dan Coyro/Sentinel)
4 prickly pears, peeled
4 ounces tequila
1 1/2 ounces triple sec
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon sugar
Coarse-grained salt for rimming (optional)
Lime slices for garnish (optional)
That does seem like the basic set of ingredients for a cactus margarita. For sugar, I would use agave syrup. You’ll have to click through for the directions on how to peel a prickly pear and what to mix together too.
Earlier today I blogged a link to a cactus recipe.
Here’s a delicious looking recipe for grilled cactus that you can now make on your cactus-briquette-fired grille.
I thought the photo looked so delicious that I should blog the recipe. Here goes!
Grilled Cactus Paddles (Nopales Asados)
Makes enough for 24 taquitos or serves 12 (side dish)
Start to finish:20 min
Cactus paddles (nopales or nopalitos) are an important vegetable in Mexico, particularly in the central and west-central parts of the country. Their flavor—reminiscent of summer’s green beans but with a hint of acidity—adds freshness and succulence to the taquitos.
12 cactus paddles (nopales or nopalitos)
2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
You’ll have to click through for the instructions, but I would highly recommend it.
I haven’t tried this recipe, so I don’t know if it’s any good. In fact, I haven’t even watched the video – I hate cooking shows – so I don’t even know anything about anything here, except this is the description that goes along with it, so I figure what the heck – have at it.
Chef Michael Flores show how to make his Cactus and Cabbage Salad.
Greenwalla recommends you go out and eat some cactus fruit RIGHT NOW!
Cactus Pear: (or Prickly Pear)
A lot of people have never tried a cactus pear, but it is a delicious fruit! Look for cactus pears that do not have any dark spots on them, you can wash them and keep them in the refrigerator for seven days. The best way to eat them is to dice them up, eat it plain or use it as a topping for a salad, cereal or soy yogurt. They can be tricky to prepare, here is a short video on how to peal one.
See, they think it’s delicious too. It’s not just me. They’re also called Tunas.
I’ve got an Opuntia that is growing too fast, and my husband is worried about our 4 month old baby get stuck with the spines.
I said we should wait until the baby can walk before worrying, but my husband thinks we should get rid of the plant entirely right now. What should we do?
Stuck in the Suburbs
Unless your husband is propping the baby up against the cactus while he’s off fixing his evening cocktail, you shouldn’t have to worry about the baby getting stuck at this young age.
As the baby gets older, I would recommend keeping the prickly pear well trimmed back so that there aren’t any wild spiny pads attracting the attentions of your inevitably wandering toddler. In fact, if you cook the freshly cut pads and feed them to your family, it’s a win-win.
Use this recipe for a healthy and happy family life for years to come:
Prepare the cactus pads as described in the preparation section above. Once you have removed the needles, nodules and thoroughly washed the pads, slice into bite-size pieces. Sauté the sliced pads in a small amount of butter for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside. Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl; add shredded cheese and the sautéed cactus pieces. Pour the egg mixture into a skillet and scramble. Serve warm with salt and pepper to taste.
Interesting look at the Pitaya market and new varieties being developed to be tastier and use even less water. These are from the night-blooming Hylocereus from Central America, although the Pitaya name can also be applied to many different cactus fruit. The more common name around here is Dragon Fruit.
The most interesting part is the difficulties with pollinating a night-blooming plant when it’s been taken out of it’s native habitat, away from it’s night-pollinator.
Maybe I should add a margarita recipe to this post. What do you think?
Well, this is what I found:
Red Dragon Cocktail
You should click through for the instructions, but the instructions are really just to pour it all together and stir. Easy enough.