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!
2 chopped cactus pear (read here about how to clean a cactus fruit)
1/2 chopped fresh mango
1 medium sized melon slice, chopped
1 small bunch fresh mint
finely grated zest of 1 lime
1 tbs brown sugar
white rum to taste
1. In a pestle and mortar, bash the lime zest together with most of the mint.
2. Add the sugar, a little rum and the lime juice. Then mix it again gently.
3. Toss the fruit together in a bowl with some of the mojito mixture, then put it in whatever you intend to eat it form – bowl, plate, etc.
4. Spoon the rest of the mojito mixture over the top, decorate with a few torn-up mint leaves and enjoy.
adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Mojito Fruit Salad