Sunday, February 17, 2013

Homesick Texan: Cactus Casserole

When I was living in New Jersey, I missed Texas like you would not believe.  Okay, maybe you would.  I missed it terribly.  Especially the food.  Tex-Mex, Mexican, and every combination thereof.  I spent my time cruising the internet, mostly to the Homesick Texan blog, and made myself feel better with the thought that at least one other person was suffering just like I was.

Around that time I saw her post a recipe for a cactus casserole.  I had eaten some cactus when I took a cruise to Mexican forever ago, and it wasn't bad, but this sounded really good.  What's not to like with rice and cream and spices?  The cactus works really well here, and I took all the shortcuts she suggested to get it to my mouth faster.  It's really rich, so you may just want a salad on the side.

Cactus Casserole
From Homesick Texan blog

1 (15-ounce) jar of cactus paddles (nopales)
1 tablespoon canola oil
½ medium yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups sour cream
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground oregano
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon cayenne
3 cups cooked rice
1 pound Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
Salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Drain the cactus paddles and then rinse with cold water.

In a large cast-iron skillet, heat up the canola oil on medium heat. Add the onions to the skillet and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute. Remove the skillet from the heat.

In a bowl, mix together the sour cream the chili powder, cumin, oregano, allspice, cayenne, and half the shredded cheese. Then stir in the cooked rice and the cactus. Taste and add salt and adjust the seasonings. Spoon the sour cream, rice and cactus mixture into the greased skillet, stirring well to combine with the onions and garlic. Top with the remaining shredded cheese.

Bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until brown and bubbling.

Makes 8 to 10 servings

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