Saturday, November 22, 2008

Cactus Pear and Avocado Salad

Some of the nicest innovations from my kitchen seem to be the result of happy accident. I was walking through Grand Central Terminal the other day in order to finish my Fly Clear sign up. I had was planning to go to Kalustyan on Lexington Avenue to buy a jar of nopalitos--not so rare. I passed through the very good group of markets and thought I might find nopalitos and savemyself a trip. I asked the woman at the counter who looked at me blankly. "Cactus" said. Her smile lightened and she led me down to the salad section where beautiful slices of bright red cactus pear were laid out in plastic containers. I bought some although they were not what I was seeking and continued down Lexington Avenue to 27th Strret where I got my nopalits )strips of of cactus paddle put up in brine).
I bought these ingredients for an article I am writing on salads for the August issue of Cooking Light. I took them home and made a regalia to go with an odd guacamole and saucers made from white corn toritillas that I think are a triumph as they require noe fat--no frying.
I was left with a container of cactus pear slices and had an avocadoleft. The regrigerator also yielded a green bell pepper. Needing a veg to go with dinner, rounded up these ingriedents and made what I found to be a beautiful and successful salad. The bright red of the cactus pear contrasted with the dark green crispness of the pepper strips and the whole was mellowed and enriched by the avocado.
This dish for two good eaters is not for those with dental problems unless they are willing to spit. The cactus pears have smell seed like those of blackberries. Eater beware.

A ripe avocado, peeled and cut in eighths lengthwise and then into 1/4 inch chunks
About 1/3rd of a pound (12 slices) of cactus pear
1 bell pepper, cored, seed, ribs removed and cut into thin strips
Juice of a half lemon (Meyer is best)
1/4 cup olive oil
kosher salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Toss pepper strips with lemon juice, salt, pepper and olive oil. Add cactus pear slices and toss briefly. Add avocado pieces and toss just until mixed.

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