Cacti family is rich in unusual, beautiful species that can make every garden or indoor plant collection pop. But, did you know that cactus is also rich in flavor? You read that right. Besides enjoying their shapes and colors, you can also use multiple parts of a cactus to spice up your everyday diet. Here are some tips on cooking cactus.
When You Take Away The Spikes, All That’s Left Is A Taste
Since the cactus isn’t quite a usual guest on our plates, you surely wonder what it tastes like. For starters, all of those who tried it testify how surprised they were. Basically, there are three edible parts of cactus and every one of them comes with a different and unique flavor. You can cook leaves, fruits, and flowers.
The parts that are used the most are leaves. They taste fresh, herbaceous, and a bit lemony. People sometimes compare them to bell peppers or green beans. Cactus leaves are a great addition to vegetarian dishes due to their thick texture and filling effect. That’s why they’re sometimes called “green steaks”. Cactus fruits have a more melony taste. They’re sweet, but not citrusy. Fruits are juicy and go well with desserts, yogurts, or baked dishes. They can also be added to juices, jams, lemonade, or even a cocktail. Flowers are mostly used for garnishing desserts and drinks.
How To Prepare Cactus Leaves For Cooking?
Considering how spikey cactus leaves can be, preparing them for cooking may seem challenging. However, it doesn’t have to be, especially if you take a note from professional chefs. If you can get your hands on leaves with spines already removed, that will save you some time. If not, you can easily do it yourself. All you need are protecting gloves, a cutting board, and a sharp knife. Lay a cactus leaf flat on a cutting board and use a knife to carefully remove spines.
Make sure to move the knife away from your body, in case it slips. You can use a vegetable peeler of leaf edges to remove thorns since they are usually pretty narrow and hard to work over with the knife. Go over the leaf a few times to get every part you wouldn’t want to ingest. Finally, rinse the leaf toughly. If you want to boil it, leave it wet. In any other case, after rinsing you should path the leaf dry.
Some Cooking Ideas With Cactus Leaves
If you want to cook cactus, be aware that leaves contain a lot of fiber and, therefore, can be really thought. To cut down the cooking time, you can slice them into strips or smaller dices. You can also leave them as they are and grill or boil to get an impressive visual presentation.
Cactus leaves release a sap-like, sticky juice when exposed to heat. After a short time cooking, it will mostly remain in the leaf. If you don’t like that texture, let the leaf boil or grill longer mand the juice will evaporate. Overall, the longer leaves are cooking, the softer they’ll get, so you can adjust the cooking time to your personal taste.
cactus leaves will be done after approximately 20 minutes, whether your boiling them or preparing them on the grill. Look for the change in color. When leaves are cooked, they’ll be brownish. If you want to roast cactus leaves in the oven, ten minutes on 375 degrees will be enough. Just remember to coat them in oil on both sides.
Finally, if you want to fo fully Mexican, coat the leaves in oil, salt, and pepper and pop them on a grill. After a few minutes on each side, top them with some fried beans, Mexican cheese, salsa, and grilled meat. Bon appetite!