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Posts Tagged ‘mexican cuisine’

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When I spotted nopales in a produce market that I visited last week I decided to purchase one. I’ve been making an effort to incorporate new foods into my cooking and I figured that cactus would be an interesting addition. Nopales originated in Mesoamerica (what is now Mexico) and continue to be a popular ingredient in their regional cuisine.

I almost forgot about the nopale sitting in my refrigerator until today when I was looking for lunchtime salad ingredients. That’s when I also spotted some ripe avocados, softening sugar plum tomatoes and a lonesome lime that had seen better days.

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Needless to say, I became inspired by what could be created by combining everything. What transpired was this delicious dip that complements a variety of foods. If you are wondering about the flavor of the cactus, it’s sort of tangy and tastes like the spawn of a big green bell pepper that got lucky one night with a little okra. It definitely adds zip to the overall flavor! It works well paired with the creaminess of the avocado and the spiciness of the cayenne pepper. You can read more about nopales in this article and here.

Cactus Avocado Dip

Makes about 1 1/3 cups. Double ingredients as needed for larger servings.

Ingredients:

One nopale (cactus) pad
Handful each of pumpkin (pepita) and sunflower seeds
Juice of 1 lime
1 ripe avocado
1/2 cup cherry or sugar plum tomatoes
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Bring a small pot of water to boil with steamer basket. Prepare the nopale by scrubbing any spines with the hard side of a clean kitchen sponge. Cut around the sides of the pad and the bottom stem. Chop lengthwise, then into smaller pieces. Add the nopale chunks to steamer basket, reduce heat and lightly steam for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and drain liquid.

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The cactus will be slightly gooey in texture. Transfer the nopale pieces to food processor, add lime juice and seeds and pulse to smooth consistency. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides.

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Add in the remaining ingredients and pulse until well blended.

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Transfer to a bowl and serve with fresh vegetables or crackers. This dip would also make a great addition to burritos or tacos. If you prefer a richer texture, add more avocado(s) to the recipe.

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