Delicious Cholla buds (ciolim)–aka Cylindropuntia versicolor–a desert staple, are plump and ready to harvest into early May. Don’t delay! Gather them with thanks before they open.
Tia Marta here to inspire you with another way to go out and appreciate our beautiful and bountiful desert!
Step 1–Harvest your Cholla
Cholla buds can be picked carefully using any tongs, here being plucked with traditional O’odham wa:wo “chop-sticks.” (MABurgess photo)
Step 2–De-spine cholla buds.
Step 3— Simmer 15-20 minutes. When softened and done, you can use them in a variety of dishes.
Today it’s Cholla Bud Quiche in 9 easy steps!
Step 4a–Preheat oven to 375F.
Step 4b—Make your crust:
Sift dry ingredients then mix together:
1 cup white Sonora wheat flour
1 tsp sea salt
3/4 cup amaranth flour
1/4 cup mesquite flour
6-8 Tbsp cold water
Form into ball by hand.
Roll out on floured board.
Finish crust by lifting rolled dough using the rolling pin, slipping rolled dough up and into pyrex pie dish.
Pinch dough along the edge to create a “bowl” or dike to hold the custard mix.
Line the pie shell with egg white.
Lay three layers of quiche surprises:
-a layer of grated cheddar or other favorite cheese
-a layer of cooked cholla buds to fully cover the cheese and crust floor
-a sprinkle of broken crisp bacon (optional)
Make the custard mix with:
4 beaten eggs
1/4-1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp I’itoi’s onions or chives (optional)
2 cups scalded milk
Pour custard mix into pie shell over cholla buds.
Caution: As you harvest your cholla buds do be on the lookout for spines and critters!
Soon you will be able to sign up for online classes in desert harvesting at Tucson’s Mission Garden. Check out www.missiongarden.org or contact the program coordinator.
As for ingredients, you can find dried cholla buds, white Sonora wheatberries for milling, and fresh eggs all at the Mission Garden entrance, Wednesdays-Saturdays 8am-12noon. Mission Garden is making plans for two important events–the San Ysidro Fiesta celebrating the White Sonora Wheat Harvest Saturday May 15, and a mesquite pod milling event TBA.
White Sonora wheat flour may be available through NativeSeedsSEARCH or Barrio Bread. Amaranth flour from Bob’s Red Mill is available at most groceries. Mano y Metate Mole Adobo and other mole powders are available via NativeSeedsSEARCH and many other Southwest specialty shops.
I applaud heirloom foods artists Amy Valdes Schwemm, Nancy Reid at NSS and Carolyn Niethammer for their cholla inspirations. You can find other fun cholla bud recipes by entering “cholla” in the SavortheSouthwest.blog search box.
Every bite of Quiche Sonoraine reminds us of the desert’s nutritional and delectable gifts!