Cactus and Corn Salsa?

You probably never imagined you would be craving cactus. But after trying this delicious salsa, you will have a new appreciation for the prickly plant! Although the fruit in the following recipe is paddle shaped, it is known in the United States as the prickly pear. This cactus salsa captures the southwestern flavor in a unique way.

There are three good reasons to add prickly pear to your diet: they are tasty, inexpensive, and highly nutritious. This cactus contains manganese, magnesium, vitamin C, and even calcium.

You can find these delicious fruits at farmer’s markets or just about any Latin grocery store. Beware of paddles that are not fresh, as they will not do this salsa justice. Purchased fresh, they are great for salsa, make a great addition to scrambled eggs, and are a part of many recipes.

Here is a recipe by Amber Scott of the California Food Literacy Center:

 Preheat oven to 425°F. With a large sharp knife with a fairly straight edge, scrape off any remaining prickles or nubs on the cactus paddles. Cut the paddles crosswise into 1-inch thick strips. Lightly grease a baking sheet with olive oil. Place cactus, green tomatoes, white onion and jalapeños on the baking sheet in preheated oven for 12 minutes. The cactus should still be slightly crisp when pierced with a fork.

Heat a cast iron or stick-free skillet with 1 teaspoon olive oil over medium heat on the stove top. When the pan is heated, add frozen corn and spread out in an even layer. Do not stir the corn. Allow it to roast in the hot pan for about 2 to 3 minutes. The corn should become browned and roasted. You can check by gently flipping a few pieces with the corner of a spatula. When corn is browned, stir and roast for another 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Place corn in a small bowl and set aside.

Place the oven roasted vegetables in a food processor with the cilantro, garlic, lime juice, tequila, oregano and salt. Puree until nearly smooth, about 30 seconds. (Be careful when you remove the lid on the food processor—the heat released from the peppers will zoom up your nose and down your throat, so don’t stand directly over the open food processor.)

Pour the salsa into a serving dish. Stir the roasted corn into the finished salsa. Allow to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Serve with tortilla chips.

The dish should take about 30 minutes to prepare and cook. It’s a low stress creation that will make your belly and your body happy. If you are looking to use cactus for something other than salsa, you can juice the prickly pear into a delicious smoothie which is surprisingly hydrating, or try adding them to a salad!

If you would like to try more authentic Mexican food, contact us or stop by a Casa Blanca Mexican Restaurant. Visit us at Andover, North Andover, Haverhill, or North Billerica, Massachusetts. We’d love to have you!