An unusual alternative to the shop bought vegetables, found in abundance here in Crete, Prickly Pear (φραγκόσυκα) is considered a delicacy in some of the high ranking hotels here Crete. Just in case the present financial situation worsens here in Greece, at least we know we have an alternative!
Not only is the fruit edible, but also the pads and flowers. Not an unpleasant taste and texture, reminds me a little of broccoli, or perhaps fresh beans, which leaves an ever so slight, peppery after taste. Today we`ll be looking at the pads, how to prepare and how to eat.
Essential equipment :
Tough pair of gloves
and a nice cold frappe!
Wearing your gloves, choose and cut off this years pads, slightly larger than your outstretched palm, obviously fresher, slightly darker in colour, avoid the curved ones as they`re hard to clean.
Sit down in the shade with your frappe, still with your gloves on, and with your potato peeler, begin shaving off the spikes, along with their little base. The pads are still supple, so you can press the pad from the under side with your other hand, thus raising the spike and its base on the upper side, making it easier to shave off. Be as meticulous as possible as these spikes are extremely irritating should you get one in your finger.
Lay your pads on a chopping board and cut and discard a strip around the circumference of the pad, like this:
Wash under running water, examining for further spikes or blemishes, wash your chopping board and knife before slicing or cubing for use.
Grilled: Sprinkle olive oil over the pads (whole) and grill till soft and browned, serve sliced, with olive oil, lemon juice and ground black pepper. Pictures later.
To boil: Cube the pads, pop into hot water and boil for 10 mins or so. You can flavour the water with garlic or onion before you add the cubes. Rinse well and serve with olive oil, lemon juice and black pepper, coriander or smoked paprika.
Salad: I prefer to clean the skin off the pads completely before I use in salads. You can add thin strips to a normal Cretan salad, or create your own salad with any of the following ingredients: chopped tomatoes, onions, avocado, flavour with coriander, paprika, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, chilli.
More recipes to come.