July 24th is National Tequila Day! But how to celebrate the big day? We’ve decided to toast today with a wonderful memory about grandma.
Grandma loved tunas (prickly pears) so much that she had several cactus plants growing along her fence in her backyard. Funny, only in the desert of El Paso! I remember the vibrant flowers that grew on the cacti and knew the yummy prickly pears would soon appear. When the time was right and the prickly pears were ripe, we’d go tuna picking. I was always in awe of how well she picked these red prickly pieces of fruit. Grandma actually let me pick some myself.
While writing this post, I literally laughed out loud and wondered if I’d let my own kids pick these like grandma and I once did. Ahhhh, those were the good ‘ol days when kids got to learn from experience and we were less sheltered. Gotta remember this next time I coddle my kids too much.
I tried to remain calm and not prick myself with the needles which seemed to be on every side of the tuna. Once we had our fruit, grandma and I would go inside and sit at her kitchen table. She would cautiously trim off all the needles from each fruit and then peel each one with a knife. The intense colors hidden behind the skin captivated me and made my mouth water as I watched her prepare each one. I couldn’t wait to bite into one. Because these desert pears have lots of seeds, we each had a napkin by our plate where we’d spit the seeds into.
Recently I was shopping at my local Latin market and spotted some prickly pears and I reminisced about my childhood memories and decided to buy some. All the way home I thought about the pears and delighted in the idea of sharing them and my childhood story with my kids. Then it hit me, what if I made a beautiful cocktail, a margarita using this gorgeous fruit as the base. After several experiments and several tastings I finally came up with this version. So here you are, a prickly pear frozen margarita to cool off your summer nights.
How are you planning to celebrate National Tequila Day?
Prickly Pear Frozen Margarita
Yield: 6 Margaritas
4 prickly pears, peeled and sliced
¼ cup water
3 ½ cups crushed ice
3 ounces freshly-squeezed lime juice
3 ounces frozen limeade
6 ounces Silver Tequila
4 ½ ounces Triple Sec
3 tablespoon agave nectar
Lime wedge and coarse salt for garnish
Blend prickly pears with water. Strain into a bowl and discard seeds.
In a blender, add crushed ice, lime juice, limeade, tequila, triple sec, prickly pear puree, and agave nectar; cover and pulse ingredients.
Pour into a coarse-salt rimmed margarita glass; add a star fruit slice for a garnish and serve immediately.
Photography by Jeanine Thurston