This summer I kicked off my first annual #PaletaWeek and was truly inspired by the variety of recipes that over 25 bloggers and Instagrammers shared from across the country (there were even a few international contributors!). My creative juices continued to marinate as Amado and I spent time in Oaxaca where we visited numerous ice cream parlors and paleta shops – it was actually part of our daily routine.
We tasted a kaleidoscope of flavors including guanábana (soursop), tamarindo con chapulines (tamarind with grasshoppers), jícama con chile (jicama with chile), and piña con chamoy (pineapple with chamoy). I even tasted a mango paleta infused with mezcal and sal de gusano (a chile salt made with roasted agave worms). As with all of my trips south of the border, I came back with a notebook full of ideas and recipes, including this one. As summer winds down I’d like to share one last paleta recipe to savor the last few weeks of the season.
These Spicy Prickly Pear Mezcal Paletas are an ode to one of my favorite places on earth and Mexico’s culinary gem, Oaxaca. They capture some of the unique flavors reminiscent of my recent trip: sweet prickly pears, smoky mezcal, and a little sal de gusano. With each bite, I am transported back to my beloved Oaxaca and you will be, too!
6 large prickly pears (about 1.5 pounds)
2 Mexican or key limes
2 tablespoons agave nectar
½ cup water
2 1-ounce shots of mezcal
Sal de gusano or chile salt (to taste)
- Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. (Instructions on how to peel a prickly pear are below or you can watch this video.)
- Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a container with a spout for easy pouring.
- Pour mixture into popsicle molds and insert wooden sticks before freezing over night. Covering the popsicle molds with foil before inserting the wooden sticks helps keep them in place.
- Sprinkle with additional sal de gusano or chile salt before serving.
Handle with care! Prickly pears have tiny thorns that are oftentimes undetectable to the naked eye.
Cut 1/4″ off of each end and slice 1/4″ deep into the prickly pear (stop once you hit the fruit).
Remove entire peel.