I’ve always liked reading about cooking with offbeat ingredients (as you may know, I adore reading cookbooks but I don’t always follow through by going off to the kitchen and actually cooking!).
When I was a kid, I loved all the Euell Gibbons books – he was the guy who really made foraging for and cooking with wild foods a Thing back in the 60s. I wish I had the book where he talks about prickly pears, because – well, that would be just perfect, since I have been researching prickly pears and the things you can make with them. I do have my old copy of Stalking the Wild Asparagus (alas, not Stalking the Wild Prickly Pear).
In Mexico you can buy a sweet called Quesa de Tuna (Nopal cactus ‘cheese’), a fruit paste confection make from the nopal, which is also called ‘tuna’ there. And cubes of candied cactus are sold in places like Arizona.
But if you can’t locate this, you could try some Prickly Pear Date Conserve, which would be lovely over vanilla ice cream or just on its own. It is from my copy of America Cooks (1940). The recipe comes from a lady called Mabel L. Lyott, and Mabel (as you will see) is a minimalist regarding directions.
2 cups thinly sliced prickly pear
1 cup finely cut dates
1 1/2 cups sugar
juice of 1 orange
grated rind of 2 oranges
4 tsp lemon juice
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
Cook to consistency desired, and 5 minutes before removing from flame add the walnuts.
After the conserve, we can finish off our meal with a nice glass of Nopalea, which is a lovely and healthy drink made from the Nopal cactus that not only tastes great but helps your body stay strong. Nopalea Ultra is a healthful drink full of the natural anti-oxidants found in the Nopal cactus. – better known as prickly pear or Indian fig. Its juice has been used as a traditional medicine in many countries, including Mexico.
Drinking or eating the nopal cactus can help reduce inflammation and pain in the body. Drinking some Nopalea every day is an easy, practical way for you to get all the benefits of the Nopal cactus without having to go abroad or to a special grocery store to find some cactus. Trivita, the company that makes Nopalea, has been making this healthy natural beverage for 12 years now.
They are committed to helping people reach optimal health and wellness, and have sold over 3 million bottles of Nopalea. Try some for free today by calling Trivita, and requesting a sample, at 1-800-203-7063 ($9.95 for shipping).
[Stay tuned for another Easter ad later today! I am just now staring at it in complete amazement. But later I'll have something to say...]