Saturday, 12 November 2011

A Prickly Situation

Insalata di Rucola e Fichi d'India con Feta
Prickly Pear, Arugula and Feta Cheese Salad

Oh woe is me- for it had been too long since I last ate prickly pears- and I forgot how prickly and dangerous they are! And now I am sitting here, with my fingers full of tiny, almost invisible little thorns! Ouch!

I remember my mother telling the story of how I picked up one of these beauties as a small child and popped it straight into my mouth- immediately filling my tongue with thorns... and thought it was just some fairy-tale, dreamed up to embarrass me in front of visitors. Well now I finally know better! Because they do look and feel smooth- the thorns are hidden at the ends of those black points that are sticking out all over them. So when you don't see a large thorn there, as you would with a cactus- you get a false sense of safety with them... and it is only when your grip tightens that you register how desperately wrong you are!

So how do you go about peeling them? It is actually easier than you think. Cut away the top and the bottom, and using a small paring knife, cut away the peel, which is rather tough- the fruit are so small that it will only take 5-6 cuts to take off all of the skin. The next obstacle with the Fichi d' India, are the seeds. If you are the kind of person who looks for seedless grapes only, who has a hard time eating watermelon, or who gets uppity at the prospect of eating raspberries... this fruit is not for you! They have a LOT of seeds! In fact, I read online today, that each fruit bears 666 seeds... I don't know how accurate that is- but I can believe it! But I have no problem whatsoever with seeds, and apart from them, the Fichi d' India is a delightfully juicy and delicious fruit- reminiscent of watermelon or papaya.

I decided to try creating a dish with the Fichi d'India and came up with this simple salad. I found the combination of the sweet prickly pear, the salty Feta cheese and the intense arugula, make a wonderful combination! I seasoned with a pinch of my "Salt of the Earth", honey, olive oil and lime juice, sprinkled with spring onion and enjoyed it with a slice of fresh bread... simple but delicious!


  1. I can't imagine how painful it would be to bite into one of these babies unpeeled… ouch!

    But seriously, it's been a long time for me too since I've had a pickly pear. We used to have them growing wild close to our house, free for the picking any time. Now they're a rare—and expensive—treat. Sigh...

  2. Oh my- I feel bad reading that... they were 3 for €1 here at the market on Saturday- which is less than a dollar, no? I got about €10 worth of needles with them though! lol