Abuelita's Corn Tortillas with Nopales Salsa
Although I worked in Berkeley for almost 3 years, it took Shuna's Knife Skills Class and a previously unknown amount of free (read:without children) time to make my way to the famed Berkeley Bowl. This is a famous grocery store that carries a lot of produce you don't find in your run-of-the -mill store and the kind of place that carries 10 varieties of lemons and plenty of tofu. I was very excited to find nopales (cactus) leaves , but was even more excited to find debarbed, chopped nopales in a bag for $2. Having recently seen a soup recipe that called for nopales (and, if you wrote it, please email me the link, 'cos now I can't find it!), this was an easy purchasing decision.
(Postscript: The soup is Hominy & Cactus Soup from Lydia at The Perfect Pantry. Thanks Lydia)
Although I'm a Brit and love English Food, one of the great things about moving to California (along with the sun, coast, and artichokes) was my discovery of Mexican Food. I love Mexican flavors and, in a phase in my youth, subsisted on quesadillas (along with several dinner companions) for a very long time.
So what the heck does cactus taste like? It tastes like a grassy, succulent (ha!), mild green pepper, slightly sweet and slightly bitter. I used my diced nopales in a salsa with chopped tomatoes, red onion, avocado, cilantro, jalapeno, and Pace picante sauce and really enjoyed this addition. Served with Abuelita's Sonora Style Corn Tortillas (with Green Chile & Gilroy Garlic, also purchased at Berkeley Bowl) with melted cheddar cheese, these salsa-topped corn tortillas were totally amazing! Abuelita's corn tortilla's (made in Sacramento) are so tender and flavorful, they even taste fantastic raw. Locals: if you see these, buy them and indulge!