Now, before you get all excited and start chewing on the nearest cactus, let me explain that it is illegal to harvest desert plants in designated preserves (not to mention dangerous, as many desert plants are toxic and most are well fortified with protective spines and stickers). With the disclaimer out of the way, here are a few recipes centered around desert grown ingredients from Arizona.
PRICKLY PEAR SANGRIA:
Serves: 30 servings
1 (750ml) bottle Zinfandel
1 (750ml) bottle Merlot
1 (750ml) bottle Cabernet
1 (750ml) bottle Beaujolais
1/2 cup brandy
1/2 cup tequila
2 quarts orange juice
1 cup lemon juice
1 cup lime juice
1 quart prickly pear cactus nectar
Fresh fruit thinly sliced – Apples (red, green), oranges, melons, star fruit, lemons, limes, and strawberries
Blend wine, brandy, tequila, orange juice, lemon juice, pear cactus nectar, vanilla beans and cinnamon sticks. Add sugar, to taste. You may also add club soda, to taste, if you enjoy a more balanced body.
Thoroughly chill all ingredients and combine with a melange of fresh fruit thinly sliced.
*Sangria will get more flavorful if you let it sit for 48 hours.
POMEGRANATE, GOUDA AND PEAR QUESADILLA WITH POM SALSA
Makes 12 Pieces
1 cup arils from 1-2 large Pomegranates
6 8-inch flour tortillas
4 oz. smoked Gouda cheese, thinly sliced
2 large firm pears, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
juice from 1 large Pomegranate* or 1/4 cup Pomegranate Juice
* For 1 cup of juice, cut 2-3 large Pomegranates in half and juice them with a citrus reamer or juicer. Pour the mixture thu a cheesecloth-lined strainer or sieve. Set juice aside.
2 cups arils from 2-3 large Pomegranates
3-4 teaspoons chopped jalapeno pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped yellow bell pepper
4 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1. Score 1-2 fresh pomegranates and place in a bowl of water. Break open the pomegranate underwater to free the arils (seed sacs). The arils will sink to the bottom of the bowl and the membrane will float to the top. Sieve and put the arils in a separate bowl. Reserve 1/2 cup of the arils from fruit and set aside. (Refrigerate or freeze remaining arils for another use.).
Place 2 strips of cheese on each tortilla
3. Using fingers, press 1 teaspoon of arils into cheese.
4. Add 2 slices of pear, sprinkle with sugar. Fold tortilla in half.
5. Add 1/2 teaspoon oil to a nonstick skillet and heat.
6. Place folded tortillas in the pan and brown lightly; turn over and cook until crisp. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon of oil if needed.
7. Cut each tortilla into halves and serve with POM Salsa
1. Score 2-3 fresh pomegranates and place in a bowl of water. Break open the pomegranate under water to free the arils (seed sacs). The arils will sink to the bottom of the bowl and the membrane will float to the top. Sieve and put the arils in a separate bowl. Reserve 2 cups of the arils from the fruit and set aside. (Refrigerate or freeze remaining arils for another use.)
2. Prepare fresh pomegranate juice.*
3. Thoroughly mix to combine all ingredients. (Salsa will keep covered, in the refrigerator 2-3 days)