Sunday, February 22, 2009
Texas Cactus Fritters
Cactus: nutritious & delicious too!
Cactus or Nopal brought many a Texas rancher through a long hard Winter in the not too distant past. I have heard my Grandfather talk about burning the Prickly Pear Cactus all Winter long so they could keep cattle fed when grass was scarce in the 1930's. Texas A&M University has done extensive research on the benefits of Nopal for both people & animals. Early Spanish explorers were introduced to the Cactus as food source when they met indigenous peoples who used both the fruit produced by the plant as well as the green pads. In South Texas & Mexico the Nopal or tender pads of cactus are used in Salads, Soups & even scrambled into eggs...my personal favorite. The taste is similar to asparagus or a green bean. Nopal is both high in fiber, vitamins & claims to lower blood sugar levels, as well as help a hangover! For more information check here:
In many Latin grocery stores nopal is easily accessible. The cactus or nopal must be blanched in order to use it in salads or cooked so the texture is acceptable. This recipe simple & can be used as a side dish or appetizer. I made a dipping sauce from Sour Cream & ready made fire roasted Salsa Verde, mixing equal parts. The sauce is nice but by no means necessary.
Texas Cactus Fritters
1 1/2 cups Yellow Corn (can be fresh, canned or frozen as long as it is drained & thawed)
1 cup of Nopal cut into small diced pieces (nopalitos), blanched & well drained
1/4 cup Red Bell Pepper, diced
1/4 cup Poblano Pepper, roasted, peeled & diced
1/4 cup onion, diced1 Jalapeno Pepper, seeded, diced
2 Eggs, beaten
3 - 4 Tbsp. milk
2 Tsp. Cajun seasoning
1 cup Corn meal
2 Tbsp. Flour
1 tsp. Sugar
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/4 tsp. Salt
Mix together corn, peppers, onion, nopal. Add dry ingredients, stir to coat all of the ingredients with the cornmeal mixture. Once this is done add the beaten eggs & then add in the Tbsp. of milk 1 at a time, making the mixture the texture of a sticky texture dough batter. Drop well rounded spoonfuls into hot vegetable oil in skillet & cook over med high heat. Turn them once making certain to brown well on each side. Drain any excess oil onto paper towels & serve at once.
Nopal scrambled into eggs with tomato & green onion.