Healthy Mexican Recipe! Ensalada de Nopales

Julia Child once said, "You don't have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces – just good food from fresh ingredients."

That is exactly the case with nopal salad.

Nopales, for those who don't know, are edible cactus leafs mainly cultivated in the mountainous states that surround Mexico City. Though I recently heard that they're now cultivated in parts of the Mediterranean and North Africa, which is good news for everyone since aside from being delicious, nopales are quite healthy, packed with fiber, vitamin C, antioxidants. They also lower your blood sugar--so they're a great option for people living with diabetes.


You can find canned nopales but my recommendation is to buy them fresh. I was happily surprised when I found them at Whole Foods so I started announcing it to everyone I know. A lot of my American friends didn't know what nopales were while I was raving about them, so I started sharing the recipe for Ensalada de Nopales--which happens to be one of my favorite vegetarian dishes in the world!

For this recipe you will need:

  • 2 large nopal leafs
  • ½ large red onion sliced
  • 2 fresh Roma tomatoes, cubed
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped cilantro
  • 1 jalapeno pepper chopped 
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • The juice of one lime
  • Salt
  • Shredded queso fresco (Mexican cheese / cotija or panela will do)


  1. Clean nopales with a peeler or a small paring knife. Make sure to remove all the thorns and nods paying special attention to the edges of the pads.
  2. Cut in bite size pieces and boil with onion for 20-25 minutes or until tender. Add salt to taste. Drain.
  3. Mix with the rest of the ingredients in a salad bowl and refrigerate until cool.
  4. Serve along with a juicy carne asada, some frijoles refritos and enjoy.

(If you are watching your weight, just have the salad -- I promise you it will leave you absolutely satisfied)

Topics: mexican food  latin food  latin recipes