Above: Try this recipe for a zesty spin on a mixed green salad (from Cultural Blend, November 2021). Photograph by Quentin Bacon.
Prickly pear cactus began growing in the deserts of North America about 3 million years ago, so it’s always appeared in recipes passed down from the Akimel O’odham and Tohono O’odham. In late August the deserts are accented with the cacti’s rich, dark-pink fruit, signaling that it’s time to harvest. This recipe sticks with a tradition of combining fruits, nuts, and foraged greens, but I update it with a zesty sprinkling of queso fresco to bring some tart saltiness to the sweeter elements. If you can’t find prickly pear juice or syrup in your grocery store, you can easily find it online. Just skip the agave if you’re using syrup instead of juice—you don’t want to oversweeten the dressing.
New Native Kitchen: Celebrating Modern Recipes of the American Indian is available at bookstores throughout the country. Learn more about Freddie J. Bitsoie’s work, including his partnership with famed Italian chef Lidia Bastianich, on his Rezervations Not Required Facebook page.