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prickly pears

Here in the Southwest desert, it is prickly pear season. The prickly pear fruit (also known as tunas) are ripe for the picking; the very careful picking, that is. Be sure to wear thick leather gloves and use tongs. The most versatile way to use the fruit is to make a sauce, which can be kept for up to one week in the refrigerator or may be frozen. From there you can use the sauce to make a vinaigrette, use in marinades, margaritas or mojitos, to make sorbet, or add to a BBQ sauce, and the list goes on. The fruit has a bright strawberry/kiwi/watermelon flavor and the most gorgeous crimson color.  There are two things to be careful of though – the tiny and very painful hair-like stickers (hence the need for gloves and tongs) and the pretty color itself, it stains like crazy.

Prickly pear branches (the pads) are called nopales. They are also edible, cooked and eaten as a vegetable. I think they taste similar to green beans but with a slimy texture. Can you tell I am not a fan of the nopale?

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August 23, 2011   1 Comment