Spicy Fruit Salad

Courtesy Mona Anderson.

3 or 4 tunas (prickly pear fruit), peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch chunks
2 large mangoes, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch chunks
1 cucumber, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch chunks
1 papaya, chopped into 1/2-inch chunks
Pine nuts (optional)
Baby coconut (optional)
Other fruit (optional)
1/4 cup lemon (or lime) juice
Chile pequin (dried chile powder, or substitute cayenne) found in Mexican food stores

  1. In a bowl, combine ingredients up to the lemon juice.
  2. Add the salt to lemon or lime juice until you can taste the salt, then add the chile powder, until it reaches a level of heat that you like. (The trick is to reach the right combination of lemon, salt, and chile powder. Chile will increase in intensity as it sits.)
  3. Add the spice mixture to the fruit and toss. In a few minutes, the flavors will mix.
  4. With a spoon, sample some of the juice at the bottom. Make adjustments to taste: more lemon, salt, or chile powder.

Note: You can cheat and buy ready-made powder of chile, salt and lemon at Mexican food stores. Be aware of the preservatives, though.

To cook tender nopales (prickly pear cactus pads):

  1. Pare off the spines, cut in small cubes.
  2. In a very large pot, boil in lightly salted water for about 10 minutes.
  3. Drain, rinse well, and store. Drain again before using.
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