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Nopalitos Salad (Cactus Paddle Salad)

While we most often make a simple Cactus Paddle salad using cooked nopalitos, diced tomatoes and onion, and crumbled queso fresco with a bit of cilantro mixed in...this version is quickly becoming a close runner-up.  The creamy goat cheese just sort of melts into each bite...and the slick cilantro dressing is a nice compliment to the crunch of the onion and the tomato.  No matter which version you try, I hope you'll add Cactus to your list of addicting veggies (if it's not there already).  While you can find whole cactus paddles at any Mexican Market, you can find the jarred or canned version in the International aisle of most supermarkets today.  

Just a quickie...I'm off to enjoy the rest of this gorgeous day...and sweat through tomorrow's 90° madness. Ugh.  Oh well.  At least it's not snowing.  I guess. Sheesh, never satisfied.  I just want to live in the land of eternal-Autumn (ie...temps anywhere from 55°-70° F).  Is that really too much to ask for?
Nopalitos Salad
 This recipe calls for jarred Nopalitos.  You could obviously also used canned, or use fresh that have been de-spiked, sliced, and par-boiled.
adapted from Houston Classic Mexican Recipes
makes ~4 svgs.

~2 lb. (jarred) Nopalitos (Cacus Paddles)
¼ small red onion, sliced thinly
2 fat cloves garlic, minced
¼ c. goat cheese, crumbled
Cilantro Dressing, to taste (recipe follows)

tomato, diced
cilantro, picked &/or chopped

Drain nopalitos and rinse well. Combine with onion and garlic in a bowl.  Gently fold in goat cheese.  Drizzle in as much of the Cilantro dressing as you'd like (I usually use ~½ c. and reserve the rest for another purpose).  Garnish w/ diced tomato & cilantro.
Cilantro Dressing
makes ~1 c.

1 Tbs. Dijon Mustard
small handful fresh cilantro
1 Tbs. lime juice
pinch ground cumin
2 Tbs. freshly squeezed orange juice
½ c. olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Place all ingredients except oil, salt, & pepper in blender.  Blend and then add oil in a stream to emulsify (combine). Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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