I am a strong believer in trying new things. I think everything deserves to be tried at least once, whether it be crickets fried in butter and garlic, or a new and exotic fruit you find hanging out in the produce section.
Sometimes this doesn’t play out so well, like in the case of really, really stinky cheeses (just not a fan), or… or… yeah, okay, I’m having a hard time coming up with other things I really dislike. That’s because in most cases, trying new things leads to discovering something wonderful.
Take these prickly pear margaritas, for example. Scary fruit with spikes = new favorite cocktail. Wonderful.
Prickly pears have a deceptively vibrant hue, which might lead you to think they are powerfully flavored, but they are not. They are delicate and floral — the first things that came to mind when I tasted one were watermelon and cucumber — the flavor is lightly sweet, unique, and very delicate. To enhance those qualities, I chose to mix a bit of honey into the pureed fruit before giving everything a good hard shake in my cocktail shaker.
I love sweet, floral cocktails, and this one fits the bill perfectly. Not to mention it is the same shade of pink I dyed my hair when I was fifteen. (I believe it was called “fabulous fuchsia,” and yes, I rocked it.)
My inspiration for this drink came from a recipe my friend Shannon made for Prickly Pear Margarita Jam. I used a couple of my prickly pears to make a small batch of it, and now I regret not making more. Cooking the fruit down intensifies the flavors, and is the perfect way to make a ripe batch of prickly pears last and last.
I must’ve walked past these strange little fruit in the grocery store dozens of times, and am so glad Shannon talked me into finally trying them. A word to the wise, be careful when you go to pick these up. They are indeed the fruit of a cactus, and they aren’t called prickly pears for nothing. Some grocery stores are careful to strip away the needles, but others aren’t (and even if they are, it can be easy to miss some of the small, fiber-like pins). I recommend gloves for handling, and when you’re in the grocery store I find a doubled up plastic bag can help protect you while selecting them.
Have you ever tried prickly pears? If so, what’s your favorite way to use them? I’d love to know.
- 2 purple prickly pears
- 2-3 TBSP honey
- 4 oz. tequila
- 2 oz. fresh lime juice
- 1 oz. fresh orange juice
- 1 tsp. orange liqueur
- Salt, for rimming the glasses (optional)
- Lime wedges for garnish (optional)
- Start by pureeing the prickly pears. If your prickly pears are, indeed, prickly, I suggest wearing a sturdy pair of gloves to handle them. Cut the prickly pears in half lengthwise, and use a spoon or your fingers to remove the fruit from the outer skin. Discard the skins, and place the inner fruit into the bowl of your blender or food processor.
- Blend until liquid, then pour through a fine mesh strainer to remove the seeds. You should have about a half cup of juice.
- Add the prickly pear juice, honey, tequila, lime juice, orange juice, and orange liqueur to a cocktail shaker with ice, and shake hard for about thirty seconds, or until the shaker is super cold and frosty.
- To rim the glasses, rub a wedge of lime around the edges and dip into flaked salt. Add ice to each glass, then pour in the margaritas. Serve.