The paddles of prickly pears are a common ingredient in Mexico and are sold in the vegetable section of supermarkets with spindles removed.
Although prickly pear trees are all over the island, the paddles have not made their way to the supermarkets yet, nor to our kitchens. I encourage you to try them out and they are best when the fruit is in season.
How to prepare the paddles Try to choose the smaller paddles as they are more tender. Use a knife with a sharp point to scoop around the spindles and a vegetable peeler to remove the outer skin. Cut off the base of the paddle before you chop and cook.
For the Kapunata with Prickly Pear Paddles you will need:
250g prickly pear paddles, prepared as above and chopped 1 onion, chopped/diced 1 clove garlic, minced 2 eggplants, chopped/diced and cooked 2 large courgettes, chopped/diced and cooked 4 tomatoes, chopped/diced 1 tablespoon tomato puree 2 tablespoons fresh mixed herbs 2 tablespoons olive oil 400ml water 1 stock cube 400g tinned tomatoes a pinch of stevia Salt and Pepper To finish off: 1 tablespoon fresh mixed herbs, chopped 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped fresh mint leaves 2 tomatoes, cut into slices 50g black olives 1 tablespoon apple vinegar 1 tablespoon capers some grated fresh lemon zest
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan.
Add the onion and saute on low heat until it is translucent.
Add the prickly pear paddles and cook for 5 minutes. Add the stock cube with water. Keep cooking on low heat until the gelatinous appearance disappears. Add the tinned chopped tomatoes. Bring to a boil, still on moderate heat.
Simmer on low heat for 5 – 10 minutes until the paddles are tender. Then add the rest of the vegetables and herbs and all the other ingredients from the first part of the ingredient list above. Cook for another 15 minutes until the liquid reduces.
Remove from heat and allow to rest for 5 – 10 minutes.
Transfer the kapunata to your serving dish and finish off with slices of fresh tomatoes, olives, capers, apple vinegar, olive oil, fresh herbs and parsley, mint leaves and some grated lemon zest.
I use Greek Kalamata Pitted Olives by Kos available at Quality Foods Marketing