Insalata di Cactus Siciliani | Sicilian Cactus Salad

Napolitas are the paddles of the prickly pear cactus, a sought after food very popular in southern Italy, especially Sicily. The prickly pear fruits called Fichi di India are equally loved. One day while I was hiking in desertous terrain, avoiding the thorns of the prickly pear cacti, I remembered this refreshing Sicilian salad I enjoyed while visiting the island one hot summer. A chilled glass of Valente Emozione Number 1 Montonico is the perfect wine to pair with this exotic salad.



To make this vegan friendly, omit the pancetta and substitute the Pecorino with Violife Plant-Based Parmesan.

Receipt Date: September 12, 2020
Difficulty: Easy
Measurements: Imperial (US)

See ingredients, directions and pairings.


1/2 Ripe Melon, cubed

2 Napolitas, Prickly Pear Cactus Paddles, dethorned and cleaned

6 ounces Pancetta

2 tablespoons Pine Nuts, toasted

2 tablespoons EVOO

1 tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar

7 Fresh Basil Leaves, torn

Sea Salt and Pepper, to taste

Chunk of Pecorino Cheese, shaved with a peeler


Trim away the outer 1/4" edge of each paddle, including the bottom stem. Cut into 1' pieces. Bring a small pot of water to a boil and add a pinch of sea salt and the Napolitas. Boil for 10 minutes. In the meantime, fry the pancetta in a saute pan until crispy, reserve the rendered fat. Let the pancetta drain on a paper towel, once cool enough to handle, tear it into pieces. Drain and dry the cactus pieces. Reheat the pancetta fat over medium-high heat, then add the cactus. Saute until the Napolitas are golden brown. Transfer the cactus to a towel paper-lined dish and place it in the refrigerator to cool down quickly. In a large salad bowl, add the melon, pancetta pieces, toasted pine nuts, torn basil leaves, cooled prickly pear cactus, EVOO, and red wine vinegar, toss gently. Add sea salt and pepper to taste. Top off with shaved Pecorino. Serve immediately.  

Amy’s Favorite Pairing


$44.00 750 ml

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