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Summer produce may be gone for the season, but there’s more to savor this fall than just apples, pears, and persimmons. Consider the humble, egg-shaped prickly pear cactus fruit, whose lovely dark pink juice can be used in cocktails, syrups, vinaigrettes, jellies and sorbets. The flesh can also be enjoyed in salads, smoothies and even unique pies. Admittedly, the fruit is not as ubiquitous as, say, Fuji apples, but the bumpy little treasures are well worth seeking out (I have discovered them recently at several different local farmers’ markets). Be forewarned that the fruit is covered in teeny, hair-like thorns that cause infuriating, painful irritation, so a sturdy pair of gloves is in order if you want to handle prickly pears (here’s a helpful guide to cutting and preparing this intriguing fruit).
Prickly Pear and Pomegranate Smoothie
Yield: 2 Servings
1 ½ cups prickly pear, peeled and chopped
Seeds from 1 pomegranate
¾ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
¼ cup cashew milk (recipe follows)
¼ cup banana, chopped
1 ½ teaspoons fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 cups crushed ice
Combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender and process until smooth.
3 cups raw cashews
6 cups filtered water
In a high-speed blender, combine cashews and water. Blend until creamy. Line a large sieve with a double thickness of cheesecloth and place over a bowl. Pour almond mixture into the sieve and drain. Pull the corners of the cheesecloth together, holding tightly, and squeeze to extract milk. Transfer milk to a covered container and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Makes 4 ½ cups.