Cornucopia of the world – that’s what they used to call California when they were still trying to attract immigrants. And it’s true – with rare exceptions, everything grows here. So I’ve made a vow: Every time I go to Berkeley Bowl, I want to try one new type of vegetable or fruit (and blog about it, obviously!). I’ve already tried Jicama , a sweet kind of turnip that can be eaten raw. Boooring, right? Now, think of the most challenging plant that one can possibly eat. No, not celeriac (even I am not that crazy)… Here’s a hint for the German speakers out there:
Cacti! Who would be so crazy as to eat plants “that are armed with two kinds of spines; large, smooth, fixed spines and small, hairlike prickles called glochids, that easily penetrate skin and detach from the plant“? Mexicans, obviously! Now, you have a choice. You can buy these guys right here:
Fortunately, there’s division of labor, and you can also get them pre-de-prickled (which is what I did).
Now for the recipe: I sauteed onions and garlic in a generous amount of duck fat (Yes! Duck fat! We are the 1%!), added the nopalitos and some canned peeled tomatoes, cumin, pepper, salt, oregano, and pimentón paprika. I cooked it until the juices had almost evaporated. Then I made an approximation of Huevos Rancheros – basically, eggs over easy with some cheese and cream cheese thrown in, accompanied by avocado, sour cream and cilantro. Voila, the finished cactus dish:
I am pleased to say that it didn’t taste like it had cactus in it. It was rather good, actually…the nopalitos have a slightly acidic taste to them, a bit like canned vegetables or okra, but are otherwise unspectacular. The spectacular thing is that you’ll be able to tell your guests that you’re serving them cactus. And who wouldn’t enjoy that?