This winter salad will inspire you to include herbs in all the salads you make! While the cactus pear can be intimidating to use because of its hard seeds, I'm sharing a trick I use to easily remove them. As soon as you extract that sweet juice, you will want to use this fruit in everything.
Why this Recipe Works
Herbs work so well in salads and you can get them year-round. You can even grow them in your window sill. They enhance the flavors of all the other fruits and veggies in the bowl creating a flavor explosion you weren’t expecting. I use sharp mint, peppery basil and fennel fronds to uplift the salad base of lettuce.
The vinaigrette is incredible: the cactus pear juice has an amazing sweet-tart berry taste, often compared to strawberry or raspberry in flavor. We blend the cactus pear to easily strain out the seeds.
I love to add in the grapefruit segments for a juicy citrus bite with the leafy salad. They complement the herbs and mild fennel perfectly.
Ingredients & Substitutions
cactus pear - If you can find it, get it. Be careful with the prickly thorns on the outside, even if it doesn't look like there are any. You can substitute with sweet berries like strawberries or raspberries. Do not use a tart berry or it won't taste right.
fennel - use both the bulb, shaved, and the fronds, rough chopped. The fronds are the furry green parts that come up out of the bulb. You can't always buy fennel with the fronds, and that is ok.
How to Make this Recipe
Blend together the dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor for 30 seconds. Strain to remove the cactus pear seeds.
Toss the greens, fresh herbs, and shaved fennel with the dressing in a large serving bowl. Top with the grapefruit segments.
Cactus Pear FAQs
Yes. They are too hard to bite through, but you can swallow them and they are safe.
Cut the pear in half. Scoop out the inside flesh or peel back the skin. You can eat the entire inside flesh, including the seeds. Be careful, the outside may have thorns even if it doesn't look like it.
Like a combination of strawberry and raspberry, but with hard seeds.
More Cactus Pear Recipes & Salads
If you like this recipe, you should check out my other salad recipes, or one of these favorites:
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Grapefruit Fennel Salad with Cactus Pear Vinaigrette
- 1 cactus pear
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoon lime juice fresh
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- salt & pepper
For the salad:
- 8 cups mixed lettuce
- 1 fennel bulb shaved on a mandolin (fronds reserved and removed from stem)
- 1 grapefruit segmented
- 1 handful of fresh mint leaves chiffonade
- 1 handful of fresh basil basil leaves chiffonade
- Blend together the dressing ingredients. Strain to remove the cactus pear (or raspberry) seeds.
- Toss the greens, fresh herbs, and shaved fennel with the dressing in a large serving bowl. Top with the grapefruit segments.
This post was originally published in January of 2018 but was republished with new photos, step by step instructions, FAQs, and tips in January of 2021.