Sunday, October 16, 2016

Cactus Soup

Las Brisas, 1969 Artesia, Redondo Beach, is the only restaurant that we've ever been in that has cactus soup on the menu.  When, 32 years ago, we first saw it at Las Brisas, we were curious enough to order a cup.  It tasted like ... split pea, but with ... something else ... which was the cactus.

The chef explained that the restaurant has a regular delivery of them from a farmer in Baja.  And due to uncertainty about the crop, gathering, delivery and so forth, it wasn't always on the menu.  It has apparently proved itself to the buying customers though because now it is permanently on the menu along with albondigas and pollo fideo, a variety of chicken soup.

Yesterday we were in Smart & Final, Iris' new store.  I was looking for El Pato jalapena salsa (umgotz) and lo and behold!  a large glass jar with La Costena Tender Cactus Nopalitos!  The cacti contained there in were spineless, pale green strips of tender-looking cactus. 

The 29.1 oz. jar sells for $1.99.  Any Mercado or Mexican grocery store should have them as well as Smart & Final.  Ingredients:  cactus, water, onion, coriander, serrano peppers, salt, vinegar. 

Thus -- with no further ado --

1 can split pea soup with bacon (or not if you're a vegetarian)
10 - 12 strips cactus, drained and diced

Heat soup, toss in cactus and serve. 

We have some leftover cooked but naked spaghetti and I am thinking about sautéing some chopped red onions, a few strips of chopped cactus in butter and tossing in the spaghetti for a side to scallops for tonight's dinner.  There's more than one reason to strip a cactus.

Later:  The dish turned out well; will do it again when all of the signs and ingredients re-occur.

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