Unlike the family cactus, which has never produced flowers, the Opuntia Ficus-Indica (Indian Fig) in the photo produced a few buds and the first flower bloomed today. One of my sister's friends gave me an Opuntia pad two years ago, and it has grown from that first small pad into a plant four feet high with many pads. O. ficus-indica flowers can range from predominately yellow-to-yellow-orange. Since most of the other Opuntia species in my garden have yellow flowers, this orangey color is a welcome change.
In a couple of weeks, pears will grow from the spent flowers. They will be green at first, and gradually ripen to red. I'll know they are ripe when native birds start hanging around the cactus. Since this is the first flower on this cactus, I think I'll celebrate by doing something with the fruit when it's ripe. Prickly Pear Vinaigrette sounds good.
2 prickly pears
2 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
Juice of 1/2 lemon and 1/2 lime
Slice open prickly pear and scoop out contents. Place in blender with banana. Add the honey, vinegar, lemon, and lime juices and blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Add more vinegar for tartness, or more honey for sweetness. Thin with more banana if necessary, or if too thick, add some of apple juice. Strain through a fine sieve before serving.