LOS ANGELES, March 22, 2013 — This recipe, another from 50 Best Plants on the Planet by Cathy Thomas, features cactus leaves: paddles or nopales. They have a taste and texture similar to a slightly tart green bean.
Filled with natural anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory chemicals, the prickly succulents also lower triglycerides (bad fats that accumulate in blood), strengthen bones, and reduce symptoms of overindulgence in alcohol.
And all this in a tasty sandwich!
GRILLED CACTUS PADDLE SANDWICHES
Recipe and photo courtesy Melissa’s World Produce
Yields 4 servings
2 C 1/2-inch strips cleaned raw cactus leaves
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt (kosher or sea)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 T seasoned rice vinegar
1 T chopped fresh cilantro
4 slices rustic whole-grain bread, about 3/8 inch thick
1 garlic clove, peeled
8 ounces pepper Jack cheese, thinly sliced
Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
In a bowl, toss together the cactus, onion, and 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil.
Season with salt and pepper. Spread the mixture in a grill basket or on a grill pan. Do not wash the bowl.
Grill until the vegetables are slightly charred and softened, about 5 minutes.
Return them to the bowl and toss with the vinegar and cilantro. Brush one side of each piece of bread with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil.
Grill the bread, oiled-side down, until golden. Rub the browned sides with the garlic. Place the bread toasted-side up and top with the cactus-onion mixture and cheese. Place on the grill and close the lid.
Grill just long enough to melt the cheese, about 1 minute; watch carefully because bread burns easily. Serve hot.
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