Plantidote of the Day 2012-08-16
Prickly pear cactus pads (nopales) with baby pad (nopalito)
If the first thing you think when you see a prickly pear cactus isn't "Yum!", then you probably haven't eaten one. Pretend the spines aren't there, and think of the pads as vegetables, suitable for salads, stuffing, and salsa. They have a mild, but oddly interesting flavor and some impressive health benefits (blood sugar management and lowering bad, LDL cholesterol, for example).
I can't tell you much about prickly pear fruit, because I've never had it. But here's a bit of information on how to use the fruit juice in cocktails and vinaigrettes. Best of all, if you're in Zones 8 through 11, you can grow prickly pears. They're extremely drought tolerant, very low maintenance, and can even survive cold snaps. They're also ridiculously easy to propagate. See that baby pad in the photo? Snap it off, stick it in the ground, and just like that, you've got yourself a whole new cactus!
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