Artist’s Palate: Ed Ruscha’s cactus omelette

Far right, Ed Ruscha’s hand-typed recipe. ‘Culinar’ tomato knife, $140, by Wüsthof, from Bloomingdale’s. Vintage cast-iron skillet, $30, from Shop Housing Works. Nopal cactus, $1.50 per pound, from El Nopal. Interiors: Tiziana Agnello. Food: Brian Preston-Campbell
(Image credit: Zachary Zavislak)

You can never be sure when you ask Ed Ruscha about his favourite foods if he means to eat them or work with them. In his 1970 print series News, Mews, Pews, Stews, Dues, he used cherry pie filling and chocolate syrup in place of inks, his 1969 portfolio Stains featured egg yolk and red wine, and his famous Hollywood sign screen print saw beluga caviar being painstakingly pushed through a silkscreen. In fact, he has given us a recipe with the kind of strong SoCal resonance you would expect from the artist who produced Every Building on the Sunset Strip. His work is imbued with the landscape of his adopted state and so, it appears, is his culinary repertoire. Bet they don’t eat a lot of nopales – the edible, fleshy pads of the nopal cactus – in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska.

Omelette pan or similar type pan with rounded bottom
Mixing bowl
Wire whisk or fork

2 tbsp small curd cottage cheese
2 eggs from any farm
2 tbsp diced celery
3 tbsp diced cactus (Nopalitos, usually sold in jars in jars in international food section of grocery)
1 tbsp sweet butter

Break eggs into bowl. Slightly under-mix with whisk or fork. Heat butter until it bubbles and begins to turn brown. Add eggs and let them sit in the pan until bottom begins to harden. At this point, lift the edges ever so slightly, so that the runny top layer can slip under on all sides.

As soon as this sets, but while the top is still moist, add the salt, pepper and cottage cheese in a line down the centre, as you will be golding the omelette in half. Sprinkle the celery on top of the cottage cheese, followed be the Nopalitos. Fold the empty side over so that it produces a half circle. Let the omelette set for about one minute over low heat. Roll omelette out of pan and onto plate.