A delicious addition to many a dish, especially something along the lines of Tex-Mex, at first, cactus may seem a daunting proposition for tonight’s dinner. But the short and crunchy of it is that it has long been a favorite in the deserts of Mexico and southwestern U.S. for years. For the rest of us, we have to delve into the quiet corners of specialty markets, eyes darting around for the cactus bin and the promise of wonderfully unique tacos.
Both the fruit, the prickly pear, and paddles of the nopal cactus are not just edible but notably tasty. The pears, little orangey red or purple bulbs sprouting from the tops of the paddles, are beloved for their sweetness and vibrantly colored centers. On the other hand, the paddles are likened to bell peppers, only with the added feature of having a sliminess similar to okra, which makes them ideal for thickening up sauces and soups.
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