Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Ensalada Nopalitos, a Healthy Summer salad from South of the Border.

Cactus: part of the Mexican & Central American diet centuries.

During the intense hot summer months in Texas I strive to make a lunch which will stay cold or lack in texture or flavor ( & not spoil in our current 100* temps ).  While my lunch is chilled, I do try to keep out unnecessary ingredients which could easily host food born illness in the heat.  It can be a challenge.  I have been making many marinated type salads which keep the flavors & hold up to the warm days. (with the help of frozen gel packs) 
I recently remembered one of my favorite salads from living in Mexico.  The grocers in Mexico sell nopals or cactus slices already cut up & prepared in bags. Nopal or nopalitos can be found in many stores here in Texas & across the U.S. as well. Nopales are sliced & eaten raw or fried, roasted, added to tacos, soups or pickled. Low in calories, nopales provide modest amounts vitamins & minerals. There are people who don't enjoy the texture however & that is okay.  (ahh, more for those of us who do enjoy eating nopal.) Enjoy the simple Cactus Salad recipe & stay cool.

Garden fresh tomato is perfect in or on this salad.

Ensalada de Nopalitos 
3 cups diced Nopales, with green spines removed & sliced into pieces as to resemble green beans.
boiled in salted water until tender and rinsed under cold water. *cooking time about 4 minutes.
1/4 cup finely diced yellow onion
2 small tomatoes, sliced or diced.
Tomato Vinaigrette recipe.
Prepare Nopal, rinse under cold water, chill for 1 hr, add onion, vinaigrette & then top with tomato or mix diced tomato into the nopal. Salad serves 4-5

Tomato Vinaigrette 
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper, black or red
1 medium tomato, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 small garlic clove, coarsely chopped
Toss all ingredients in the blender & pulse 2-3 minutes. Chill or use immediately.Yields 3/4 cup dressing. *1 tbsp Cilantro is also nice with this vinaigrette when serving this salad.

For more information on Nopal check here


  1. You have the coolest lunch box collection ever, and all of the food looks so delicious. I'm going to try some of these ideas. It is just too hot outside for serious cooking.

  2. Thank you, Pattie. I've been trying to keep the cool meals coming this summer. The heat seems unbearable right now.