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Vegetable of the Month: Edible Cactus!

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Sautéed Nopales, Peppers and Corn

Makes 4 servings
Each serving equals four 5 A Day servings

Ingredients

1 large red bell pepper
1 large green bell pepper
1 large onion
1 Tbsp trans-fat free butter
4 small ears of small summer corn
1/2 lb fresh, firm edible cactus, deprickered, cut in 1/4- to 1/2-inch dice
finely minced cilantro or parsley

Halve peppers, then remove seeds and stems. Cut into 1/4-1/2 inch squares. Cut onions the same size. Cook both vegetables in butter in a heavy pan over moderate heat until just softened.

Shuck corn, than cut from cob. Add edible cactus and corn to peppers and onion; stir over high heat until vegetables are cooked through, but firm-tender, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with herbs and serve hot.

Nutritional analysis per serving: Calories 184, Protein 6g, Fat 4g, Calories From Fat 20%, Cholesterol 8mg, Carbohydrates 32g, Fiber 4g, Sodium 29mg.

Stir-Fried Edible Cactus with Tomatoes and Herbs

Makes 4 servings
Each serving equals four and one-half 5 A Day servings.

Ingredients

1 lb edible cactus, small and thin, prickers removed
1/2 Tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves
pinch of salt
1/2 cup chopped Vidalia onion
1/2 small red bell pepper, diced
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 pint small, ripe cherry tomatoes, halved
fresh oregano, thyme, basil, salt, pepper

Cut nopales into strips about ¼ by 2 inches. Heat oil in large skillet; add garlic and toss. Add cactus and a pinch of salt; toss to coat. Cover and cook over moderately low heat until sticky juices are thoroughly exuded and cactus is not quite tender - about 5-8 minutes; stir fairly often. Mixture will appear quite sloppy.

Uncover and stir often over moderate heat, until tender and no longer sticky, about 10 minutes.

After mixture has finished heating, toss with onion and vinegar; add tomatoes, red bell peppers and herbs and toss gently. Add salt and pepper if desired. Serve warm.

Nutritional analysis per serving: Calories 61, Protein 3g, Fat 2g, Calories From Fat 30%, Cholesterol 0mg, Carbohydrates 10g, Fiber 1g, Sodium 145mg.

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