Nopales Salad made with prickly pear cactus, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, chili peppers, and lime juice, is a nutrient-packed salad you’ll love. It’s fresh, healthy and delicious!
Since we’re roughly three weeks away from Cinco de Mayo, I thought I’ll repost one of my favorite Mexican food to make, nopales salad. It’s loaded with fresh flavors and healthful nutrients you’ll feel good serving the whole family.
I love this cactus salad as a dip for crisp corn chips but there are many delicious ways to enjoy it.
- Use in omelets, frittatas, or scrambled eggs for a filling breakfast
- Stuff in warm tortillas with crumbled queso fresco for a vegetarian taco or burrito option
- Toss with salad greens for an extra layer of yum
- Pair with grilled meats, chicken, and seafood as a delicious side dish
What is a Nopal?
Nopales are the young segments of the prickly pear cactus and a major component of Mexican cuisine. The fruit has a light, slightly tart flavor and green-bean like texture which lends well to various preparations such as in tacos, tostadas, scrambled eggs, and this ensalada de nopales.
The nopal is not only an economical (about $2 for a one-pound bag!) addition to your meal rotation, it’s also packed with healthful fiber, antioxidants, and carotenoids.
The fleshy paddles need to be cleaned of thorny nubs and spines but are also available bottled, canned or already cut up at most Latino markets or major grocery stores for convenience.
How to Prepare Nopales:
Use a small paring knife to scrape off thorns or spines from both sides of the cactus paddles. Trim off edges and any blemished or discolored areas. Wash well under cold, running water.
Cut the paddle lengthwise into half-inch thick strips and then crosswise into 1 to 1 1/2-inch lengths.
In a pot over medium heat, combine garlic, about 1 teaspoon of salt and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil.
Add nopales and cook for about 8 to 10 minutes or until tender yet crisp. Skim off any scum that floats on top.
Remove from heat and rinse a few times under very cold water to remove the gelatinous sap.
- Drain well and use in your favorite nopales recipes.
- 2 Nopales pads
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and pounded
- 2 Roma Tomatoes, seeded and diced
- 1 small onion, seeded and diced
- 1 jalapeno pepper, minced
- 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Using a small paring knife, clean the cactus paddles by scraping thorns or spines from both sides.
- Trim off the edges and any blemished or discolored areas. Wash well with cold water.
- Cut the paddle lengthwise into half-inch thick strips and then cut crosswise into 1 to 1 1/2-inch lengths.
- In a pot over medium heat, combine garlic, about a teaspoon of salt, and enough water to cover nopales. Bring to a boil.
- Add nopales and cook, skimming scum that floats on top, for about 8 to 10 minutes or until nopales have changed color and are tender yet crisp.
- Remove from heat and rinse well under very cold water to rid of the gelatinous sap. Drain well.
- In a bowl, combine cooked nopales, tomatoes, onions, jalapeno, cilantro, and oregano.
- Add lime juice and olive oil. Season with salt to taste. Toss to combine and refrigerate for about 30 minutes to allow flavors to blend.
- Serve topped with queso fresco, if desired.