This is a quick, easy and refreshing salad. In the spring and summer, many grocery store will sell the cactus paddles already “de-spined” and cut. If you are more adventurous, go out and forage and collect your own! Select the fresh new growth on the Prickly Pear Cactus and remove using pliers, or tongs. Carefully trim off all the spines by sliding a knife flat across the surface. Search for how-to videos on YouTube.
1 pound (about 3 cups) cleaned, trimmed, sliced 1/4 cactus paddles (nopales)
4 Roma tomatoes, diced 1/4
1 small red onion, diced 1/4
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, rough chopped
3-4 limes, juice only
Salt to taste
1/2 cup Queso Fresco (Cotija or Feta cheese work great too!)
Combine cactus, tomatoes, onion and cilantro in a small bowl. Add juice of limes, salt. Stir to combine. Taste and adjust salt to your liking. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with crumbled Queso Fresco.
You can prepare the vegetables ahead of time, but do not add lime juice or salt until immediately before serving. (The cactus will leach out it viscous liquid and become slimy if it sits too long in the acid or salt. It still tastes great but looks a little odd.)
For information about the TSTC Culinary Institute call 325.672.7091.