Best Topping for Tacos | Cactus with Prickly Pear Vinaigrette

I was recently forwarded this Nigel Slater article that really drives home the importance of doing some big cooking on the weekend (such as this roast pork shoulder in the article) so that you have enough for several meals that require minimal prep for the rest of the week.  I love cooking in this way.  And pork shoulder is literally one of the most cooked cuts in this house.  It’s economical and super, super flavorful.

Our leftover roast pork was converted into tacos one night.  And one of the things I often find elevates the humble taco is the quality of the crispy cold salad on top.  At good taco stands, you’ll find some cold radishes, or perhaps some chopped onion and cilantro, maybe a bit of lime to squeeze on top of that rich carnitas or barbacoa.  I love the contrast in flavors, textures and temperatures.

This quick cold salad is tasty enough on its own for lunch, but is fantastic on some of that pork.  You can sub some radishes and apples (add lovely sweetness) for the cactus or jicama, if you have trouble finding them.   But the cactus is so full of gorgeous green flavor, and the jicama so sweet and crunchy, do make an effort to stop in a reputable Hispanic market with brisk turn over in its produce department to track some down to try.  Next time I make this, I might also toss in a green onion thinly sliced and perhaps some pomegranate arils for extra crunch.

Nopales and Jicama with Prickly Pear Vinagrette

For the salad:

1 small cactus pad, carefully trimmed well of all spines, rinsed, then cut into small batons

1/2 medium jicama, peeled well, then cut into small batons

1/2 medium red bell pepper, cut into small batons

1/2 jalepeno, deseeded and minced (or leave the seeds in if you like more heat)

Small handful of fresh coriander/cilantro, torn

Zest from one lime

For the dressing:

Juice from 1 lime

2 prickly pear fruits, slightly unripe, carefully peeled and chopped

4 T olive oil

1 heaping T brown sugar

Salt, pepper, to taste

For the salad, combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and toss together.  For the dressing, combine all ingredients in a blender or small food processor and blend until incorporated.  Strain through a fine mesh sieve to remove the prickly pear seeds (which are edible but I find to be too crunchy).   Dress salad, serve immediately.

Playlist includes Night Bus by Lucy Rose.



4 thoughts on “Best Topping for Tacos | Cactus with Prickly Pear Vinaigrette

  1. I swear I was growing a Prickly Pear near my house at one time. We had to dig up around the house and never replaced it. I was worried about it being near the kids who were small, but I always swore I was going to plant it in front of their bedroom windows when they were teens, but I never did. I wish I still had it when I see recipes like this.

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