We’re regulars at our local Arizona farmers market near Mesa, and every week we come back with bag after bag of local veggies and fruits so that I can create new recipes in the kitchen.
While we love our farmers market, we are also regulars at our local hispanic grocery store for things that you can’t quite find in your CSA bag – like nopales (better known as cactus).
These cactus paddles are the young pads of the prickly pear cactus.. every few weeks I find my husband bringing home a few of them to enjoy. He typically tosses the paddles on the grill (once he plucks out the pricklies), but I usually pickle them or throw them in our scrambled eggs for breakfast.
Cactus pads are definitely different – I won’t forget the first time I had them. They were quite scary looking (I mean, they do have pokies in them that really can stick you if you aren’t careful). And I was pretty leery on putting them in my mouth – but my father in law made eggs for us one morning and the rest was history.
My kids and I all think they taste like green beans – and while they do, they also have a taste of their own. They can be slimy when first cut, but the slime doesn’t stick around too long if you throw them in boiling water for a few minutes or roast them in the oven.
In this case, we took the edge of a knife and plucked out the pokies on the cactus, before slicing the paddle into strips and throwing on a baking sheet. We pulled off the husk on the tomatillos and gave them a good rinse, then plopped them on the baking sheet along with half an onion, and a whole jalapeno (stem removed, seeds kept).
After roasting the sheet pan for 5-7 minutes, we dumped everything into the blender, added a half bunch of cilantro and a few cloves of garlic and pureed until combined. Season with salt, to taste.
The salsa is best when given a chance to refrigerate for 30-45 minutes…. but can definitely be eaten once freshly made. If refrigerated, the salsa will keep for up to 3 days.