Assuming that a grand adventure takes you out of your comfort zone I decided to try cooking with an ingredient I have never worked with, cactus. I should have known I was up for a treat when I had a thorn stuck in my finger before I had even paid. After a little research I was ready to go, google had answered all of my questions including how to remove a tiny thorn from my finger. Armed with fish tweezers and a knife I started.
First thing you need to do is to remove the thorns. I plucked them over the sink to catch any thorns that fell. Next take a knife and run it over the paddle to remove the bumps leaving as much of the skin in tact as possible. (Above is a picture of a prepared paddle) Slice the paddle into the desired size for the recipe you are using and rinse for about 5 minutes in a strainer, it will weep a slimy liquid, this is normal. Soak for 15 minutes in a pot with cold water. Fill the pot with fresh water and boil for 20 minutes. The cactus should be tender when pierced with a fork. Rinse the cactus under cold water for 5 minutes. Now you can add them to any recipe you like. I found the cactus had a very mild flavour almost a cross between a cucumber and a pepper, the texture of a cooked pepper and a little squeak when bitten.
I also used jicama in this recipe. Jicama has a waxy exterior and a white firm interior. It must be peeled and has the texture of a crisp pear but not as sweet. I like it because it adds great crunch and freshness to recipes.
Cactus and Jicama Salsa
- 3 medium cactus paddles, prepared, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1/2 medium jicama, peeled and diced 1 into inch cubes
- 1 1/2 c. corn
- 1 medium red pepper, medium diced
- 1/4 medium red onion, diced small
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 lemon zest
- 1 good size handful cilantro, rough chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 lemon juice
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 c. olive oil
Mix all of the dressing ingredients into a small container with a lid and shake well. Mix all of the salsa ingredients into a bowl and mix. Add the dressing and season to taste. This recipe will last for 4 days in the fridge.
photo credit Christina Takeda-Curran