Prickly pears are the fruit of the nopales cactus plant. They're named for their pear-like shape and size. The texture and aroma of the fruit is very similar to grainy watermelon, with a mild sweetness. The seeds from the prickly pears look the same as the ones from kiwis.
This weekend, my father-in-law (I call him Daddy), my husband Lulu and I were sitting on the swing in the garden. Daddy noticed the fruit on the cactus plants in the corner of our garden. When we got closer we realized that the prickly pears were fully ripe. Daddy got so excited that I didn't have time to run and get leather gardening gloves; he just picked the fruit with his bare hands. Poor Daddy! I had to spend quite a bit of time to remove all of the almost invisible hair-thin spines.
We were able to gather a fair amount of ripe fruit. Even though the fruit is quite bland, the flesh has a very rich color. I used some for making vinaigrette and with the rest I made little cocktails with raspberries. I placed fresh raspberries in the freezer and used them as ice cubes to chill the drink. If you can get your hands on some prickly pears at your local market, give them a try. They're a wonderful treat.