Cactus Pear

I tried three new-to-me fruits – cactus pear, pepino melon, and pomegranate.

Cactus pear is the fruit of the prickly pear, or Opuntia.  Also known as cactus fig and Indian fig, the plants grow all over the world in the proper climates.   It can be found in South America (mine was grown in Chile), Mexico, and desert climates in the United States.  It is also found in Southern France and Italy, Sicily, Portugal, Spain, Greece, Cyprus, Malta, Egypt, Eritrea, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and many other places.

I got my cactus pear at a grocery store (Wegmans!) and all of the prickly parts had been removed.  There are many warnings about touching these fruits without proper gloves, and taking care not to touch the fruit even if the spines have been removed.  They also have something called glochids, which you don’t want to mess with.

1280px-Opuntia_littoralis_var_vaseyi_4

Creative Commons from the Wiki page – Stan Shebs

The insides of the fruit are a deep red.  The meaty pulp is heavily speckled with seeds, which are extremely hard.  We removed the meat and then strained the seeds out of it.

The texture of the fruit seed to me to be quite similar to quava or mango – lots of liquid contained within the meat.  It was sweet and enjoyable (except for the prevalence of seeds!).  It also stained my fingers a slight pink from eating a tiny piece.

You know I love my health protein shakes these days!  Mom and I are going to add some fruit puree (minus seeds) to our shakes.

I would also love to try dyeing some fabric with the gorgeous red fruit.

Here are some recipes I’d like to try using cactus pear.

Tuna and Peas with Parmesan Cheese Sauce

tuna cheese peas

Ingredients
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons gluten-free corn-free flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill GF All Purpose Baking Flour)
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 pinch paprika
pasta of choice (I used a gluten-free corn-free spaghetti)
1 can of tuna
frozen peas

First, start the pasta according to directions on the package, using a fairly large pot. The pasta will take the longest to prepare.

Next, start the cheese sauce – melt butter in a medium sized pot on medium-high heat. Add in flour and whisk continuously for about a minute. Keep whisking while adding in the milk. Bring the mixture to a boil, while continuing to whisk. Once at a boil, cook for about 2 minutes. Add in the parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and paprika. Keep whisking! When your sauce is smooth and not lumpy, it is done.

Drain pasta when done, and put it back into the pot. When cheese sauce is ready, add it to the pasta. Also add the tuna and peas at this time. Stir over low to medium heat until peas are hot.

Serve and enjoy!

tuna cheese peas

Love, Cori!

May the Light Shine

  
The holiday season is in full force for 2015 – pun intended, with the new Star Wars movie coming out soon. As I drove back home last night, I thought about what the season means to me. 

The spirit of the season is the most important part for me. Here in Upstate Western New York, we start entering a long dark few months which are often filled with cold winds and snow. My great grandparents came over to the U. S. by boat from Sweden in the early 20th century. St. Lucia Festival was an important part of my growing up. I looked forward to the day when I would get to be the girl with the crown of candles on her head, and was honored to get the chance twice to be “Lucia.” 

For me, St. Lucia represents the purity and innocence of life, which is recaptured each year when we celebrate. As we sing Silent Night, first in Swedish, then in English, hope and faith in humanity is restored. We can face the trials of our lives for another day. 

Christmas Eve church service ends similarly with Silent Night. Everyone lights their candles, one by one. The heat from the small fires always warms my heart and mind. The energy in the sanctuary is almost palpable as we welcome the boy child of God into our lives. 

I so believe in Magic. Experiencing these two particular celebrations is evidence to me that Magic is real. People come together to enjoy good music and wonderful company. Food for my soul. 

What feeds your soul during the holidays?