Have you ever tried cactus? If you're not from the Southwest part of the United States, you might not have.
What does it taste like?
Prickly pear cactus is actually a vegetable that tastes similar to cooked green beans, but has a different texture. Like okra, it produces a slimy substance when boiled. If you use the pickled version of this vegetable for this salad like I did, it will probably be pickled with a serrano pepper and onions. This will make it taste more spicy.
What are the health benefits of cactus?
- High in fiber, antioxidants, and carotenoids
- High in vitamin A and C
- Rich in potassium
What are common uses for cooked cactus?
- appetizer with tortilla chips
- quesadillas, soft tacos
- side to grilled meat
- mixed with scrambled eggs
How to Make
Gather all the ingredients. Chop the tomatoes, onions, fresh jalapeño, cilantro, and pickled cactus. Crumble the cheese and squeeze the limes.
In a large bowl, place the onion, tomato, pickled cactus, and fresh jalapeño.
With a large spoon, stir until it is well mixed.
Pour the freshly squeezed lime juice into the salad and stir.
In a smaller bowl, whisk together the vinegar, spices, and olive oil.
Add the homemade salad dressing. Mix until it evenly coats the vegetables.
Sprinkle on the freshly chopped cilantro and stir. Cover and chill for a minimum of one hour.
Just before serving, add half the crumbled cheese to the mixing bowl and stir. Place it in a serving dish and garnish with the remaining cheese.
To have the best flavor, serve slightly chilled or at room temperature.
- Change it up by adding chickpeas, avocado, or pickled carrots.
- Make this vegan by omitting the cheese.
- To save time, use the pickled version instead of fresh.
- Rinse the cactus under cold water to remove any slime.
- Serve on top of tortillas, with tortilla chips, or as a side with grilled meat.
Craving Tex-Mex food? Try these other great recipes.
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Cactus salad (ensalada de nopales) is a gluten free Mexican salad that makes a fantastic filling for tortillas or a side with grilled meat. Just toss together canned nopales, fresh veggies, and an easy dressing. Make it vegan by leaving out the cheese.
- ⅓ cup jalapeño pepper, finely chopped (about 1 large pepper)
- ¾ cup Roma tomatoes, diced (about 1 ½ large tomatoes)
- 15 ounce jar pickled cactus, chopped (¾ cup)
- ½ cup yellow onion, diced (about ½ an onion)
- ⅓ cup cilantro leaves, chopped
- 2 ounces queso fresco, crumbled
- 2 ½ tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice (from two limes)
- ½ tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Mix together the chopped onion, tomato, pickled cactus, and fresh jalapeño in a large bowl.
- Whisk together the white balsamic vinegar, spices and olive oil in a smaller bowl.
- Pour the freshly squeezed lime juice over the vegetables and stir.
- Add the dressing, then mix well to coat all the vegetables.
- Sprinkle with fresh cilantro and stir until well blended.
- Cover and chill for at least an hour, then mix in half of the crumbled cheese just before serving. Transfer it to a serving bowl and garnish with the remaining crumbled cheese. For best flavor, serve slightly cold or at room temperature.
- To make this less spicy, don't use the pickled onion and serrano pepper from the jar of pickled cactus.
- If you don't have any queso fresco (Mexican fresh cheese) on hand, feel free to substitute with feta cheese.
- Use the pickled version instead of fresh to save time.
- To remove any slime, rinse the cactus under cold water.
- Serve as a side with grilled meat or with tortilla chips.
- Prep Time: 35 minutes
- Category: Appetizer
- Method: Chopped
- Cuisine: Mexican
Keywords: prickly pear cactus, mexican, nopalitos