I have always had a love-hate relationship with cactus pear. I love the way they taste. I hate the fact that they are so hard to clean. Not knowing the perils of grabbing this delightful fruit, I once tightly grabbed hold of one when I was a kid.
I spent the next 30 minutes crying. My aunts had to pin me down with tweezers in their hands and try to get the spikes out from my hands. I learned my lesson and have never grabbed a cactus pear fruit again.
This week I went to the village with my family and we picked some cactus fruit (read about how to pick cactus fruit here). I literally had a bucketful of cactus pear sitting in my house so decided to try various recipes with it. The first, was to create a mojito-inspired fruit salad. I used fruits that are currently in season at the moment in Cyprus: cactus pear, melon, and mangoes. Incidentally I tried to buy Cyprus mangoes (in Cyprus) and they were more expensive than those imported from Puerto Rico!
This means that it is cheaper for me to buy a mango that has literally flown across the world to reach me and then for me to buy one that was grown down the road. Even if there are reasons for this, it still sits uncomfortably with me. Back to the salad. In my opinion, the salad looks disappointing but it tasted pretty good. I would recommend having it as soon as you make it, otherwise the mint goes dark and mushy.
The salad is very refreshing – in fact, I think I would have loved to take it with me to the beach and had it as a snack while suntanning. You can put it in a jam-jar and take it with you. Now, for my next cactus pear recipe … 2 cactus pear down, 15 to go!
“Cypriot Cooking” written by Christina Loucas is scheduled for release by Whitecap Books in Fall 2020 in the US, Canada, Australia, the UK and Europe. It is sure to evoke culinary memories of anyone with a connection with Cyprus. Click the link below to buy off Amazon Canada, or click here to find out where to buy it in your country.