Delicious Ensalada De Nopalitos: A Healthy Mexican Favorite

Dear esteemed veggie lovers,

Today, I welcome you to a delicious recipe that will tantalize your taste buds and leave you wanting more. It is none other than the ensalada de nopalitos or cactus salad recipe, with a vegan option.

This delectable salad promises to be quick, versatile, and refreshing. It is a perfect side dish that can accompany any meal of your choice. Whether you’re hosting a party, looking for something to bring to a potluck, or just want a light meal, this salad has got your back.

The essence of this salad lies in fresh ingredients such as head romaine lettuce, avocados, purple onion, queso fresco, Anejo cheese, fresh cilantro, tomatoes, fresh lime juice among others blended perfectly to conjure up an amazing taste you won’t forget quickly.

So let’s start cooking! Whether you’re vegan or not, you are sure to enjoy this dish. Don’t hesitate; get started now!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Ensalada De Nopalitos (Cactus Salad) With Vegan Option
Ensalada De Nopalitos (Cactus Salad) With Vegan Option

My dear readers, let me tell you why you will love this recipe for Ensalada De Nopalitos, also known as Cactus Salad. Firstly, it is a perfect side dish that showcases the delicious and unique flavor of nopalitos. These tender cactus paddles add a refreshing crunch to any meal while also providing numerous health benefits.

Secondly, this recipe can accommodate a variety of dietary needs. Not only is it naturally vegan-friendly when served without cheese, but it can also be made gluten-free by eliminating any potential wheat-based ingredients. The recipe is versatile and can easily be adjusted to fit your personal dietary restrictions or preferences without sacrificing taste.

Thirdly, this salad is quick and easy to make, requiring just a handful of ingredients that are readily available at your local grocery store or farmers’ market. It’s perfect for busy weeknights or weekend barbecues where you want to impress your guests with a refreshing, healthy dish.

Lastly, the combination of fresh cilantro, tomatoes, and avocados make this salad tasty and flavorful. Whether you serve it alone or paired with your favorite Mexican-inspired main dish, this salad is sure to satisfy your taste buds and impress your family and friends.

In conclusion, whether you’re looking for a refreshing side dish or simply want to experiment with new flavors and ingredients, this recipe for Ensalada De Nopalitos is the perfect choice. I hope you give it a try and discover why it’s quickly becoming a staple in many households across the world.

Ingredient List

“Fresh, colorful and vibrant – this cactus salad will awaken your taste buds!”

Ingredients you’ll need for Ensalada De Nopalitos:

  • 1 pound cactus pads, cooked and chopped
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes or diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 purple onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 2 cups Romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 3 cups jarred cooked nopalitos, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup vegan cheese, crumbled (such as queso fresco or Anejo cheese)
  • Juice of 1 or 2 fresh limes
  • Dried Mexican oregano, to taste

Note that you will need the cactus pads also known as nopales. Make sure to purchase cactus pads that are firm and free of blemishes. You can also use jarred or canned nopales which are easily available at Mexican grocery stores. For a vegan-friendly option, use vegan cheese in place of queso fresco or Anejo cheese. Make sure to rinse and drain the nopalitos well before adding them to the salad as they can be slimy if not prepared well. Incorporating lime juice adds a zesty tang while Mexican oregano lends an herbal flavor to the dish.

The Recipe How-To

“A perfect alternative to traditional salads – try the Ensalada De Nopalitos today!”

Step 1: Preparing the Nopales

  • Start by washing the cactus leaves (nopales) with cold water to remove any dirt and debris.
  • Trim off the edges and spines using a small sharp knife. Be sure to wear gloves or use tongs, as the cactus spines can be very sharp and cause irritation to the skin.
  • Boil the nopales in salted water until tender for about 15-20 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop cooking.
  • Cut the cooked nopales into small pieces similar in size to diced tomatoes, set aside.

Step 2: Preparing the Other Ingredients

  • Rinse and pat dry 1 head of romaine lettuce. Shred it coarsely, set aside.
  • Rinse and halve 9 cherry tomatoes, dice one half of them, set aside.
  • Peel and finely slice ¼ medium white onion, set aside.
  • Finely chop ¼ cup of fresh cilantro leaves, set aside.
  • Cut 2 ripe avocados into small cubes.

Step 3: Making the Dressing

  • In a bowl mix together, 3 tablespoons of fresh lime juice, ½ teaspoon of dried Mexican oregano, and salt according to your taste.
  • Gradually whisk in 5 tablespoons of your favorite extra-virgin olive oil. Add more salt or lime juice if needed.

Step 4: Assembling the Salad

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients including cooked nopalitos (cactus), chopped tomatoes, diced red onions, chopped cilantro, cubed avocadoes and shredded lettuce. Mix well.

Step 5: Serving

  • Serve chilled with your preferred vegan cheese options like crumbled queso fresco or anejo cheese.

Enjoy this refreshing plant-based salad recipe as a side dish or on its own. This healthy salad is quick & versatile, making it perfect for summer picnics or as an accompaniment to spicy Mexican dishes.

Substitutions and Variations

“Deliciously tangy and refreshing, this salad will brighten up any mealtime.”

Dearest reader,

If you are looking for substitutions and variations to the Ensalada De Nopalitos recipe, there are many options that will help this recipe adapt to your taste preferences and dietary needs.

Firstly, for those who prefer a vegan option, you may substitute the queso fresco and Anejo cheese with vegan cheese alternatives. There are many vegan cheeses available in most supermarkets that can provide similar taste and texture profiles to the traditional Mexican cheeses.

Secondly, if you do not have access to fresh nopalitos or prickly pear cactus paddles, you can use jarred cooked nopalitos or even opt for grilled nopales. The flavor will be slightly different but these substitutions will still make for a delicious dish.

Thirdly, if cilantro is not a herb you enjoy, feel free to substitute it with parsley or even mint for an interesting twist on the classic recipe.

Lastly, if you want to add more vegetables to the salad, consider adding sliced carrots or bell peppers for extra crunch and flavor.

In conclusion, the Ensalada De Nopalitos recipe is versatile and can be tailored to meet your specific preferences. Experiment with different substitutions and variations until you find the perfect combination that fits you.

Serving and Pairing

“Looking for a vegan recipe with a punch of flavor? Look no further than the Nopalitos Salad!”

After you’ve made this delightful cactus salad, it’s time to serve and enjoy! This vegan-friendly and refreshing side dish is quick and versatile, which means you can pair it with any meal you like.

I love to serve this ensalada de nopalitos with tacos or fajitas as it pairs perfectly with Mexican cuisine. You could also create a salad bar for your guests by serving the head romaine lettuce, avocados, purple onion, queso fresco, Anejo cheese, fresh cilantro, tomatoes, and fresh lime juice separately. This allows your guests to customize their salads and lets them have a little bit of everything.

If you’re looking for something lighter, the ensalada de nopales is perfect on its own as a light lunch or a snack. It’s also great to bring along for a picnic or a potluck with friends. The vibrant colors of the green cactus paddles and red cherry tomatoes make this dish a beautiful addition to any table setting.

For wine pairing, I would recommend some light and floral white wines such as Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc. On the other hand, if you prefer a more substantial drink, try pairing this dish with a crisp beer or an aguas frescas (a type of Mexican fruit juice).

Whichever way you choose to serve and pair this delicious recipe ensalada de nopalitos, I guarantee it will be a hit at any gathering or mealtime.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

“Add a touch of Mexico to your dinner table with this delicious and easy-to-make salad.”

One of the best things about this ensalada de nopalitos recipe is that it can be prepared ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for later use. This makes it a great option for meal prep or for larger gatherings where you need to plan ahead.

To make-ahead, simply prepare the salad as directed and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. The salad will keep well for up to three days, which means you can enjoy it as a convenient side dish or even as a light lunch throughout the week.

When it comes to reheating, we recommend serving this salad cold or at room temperature, so there’s no need to worry about warming it up. However, if you do want to serve it warm, you can gently heat a skillet over medium-high heat and warm up the nopalitos cactus salad for a few minutes.

If you have leftovers that you want to store for later, be sure to separate any ingredients that may wilt easily, such as lettuce or cilantro. Store them separately from the other ingredients and combine everything when ready to serve again.

Overall, this ensalada de nopalitos recipe is both versatile and delicious. Whether you’re making it ahead for meal prep or storing leftovers for later use, this salad is sure to impress your guests with its fresh flavors and beautiful presentation.

Tips for Perfect Results

“Succulent cactus, rich avocado, and juicy tomatoes make for a perfect summer salad.”

If you want to nail this perfect Ensalada De Nopalitos every time, follow these tips and tricks!

First of all, when handling the nopales cactus, use gloves to avoid getting pricked by its thorns. Be sure to clean them thoroughly before cooking by washing them under running water and removing any hard spots or blemishes with a knife.

When cooking the nopales, a helpful tip is to add a couple of tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice to the water to prevent them from turning slimy. Cook them until they turn green and tender but still retain some firmness.

Another essential tip is not to overdo it with the dressing. The ensalada de nopales pairs well with a simple vinaigrette made of fresh lime juice, dried Mexican oregano, and olive oil.

For the vegan-friendly option, replace the traditional cheese toppings such as queso fresco with vegan cheese or omit it altogether. Also, make sure that the jarred cooked nopales you are using do not contain any animal products.

Lastly, make sure that your ingredients are fresh and of high quality for the best result. With these tips in mind, get ready to make a delicious and refreshing Ensalada De Nopalitos that will impress your guests!

Bottom Line

In conclusion, Ensalada De Nopalitos is a delicious and refreshing side dish that can be enjoyed by everyone, including vegans. With its versatility and variety of ingredients, this dish can be adjusted to your liking and paired with a variety of main courses. Whether you prefer it with queso fresco, Anejo cheese or vegan cheese, this cactus salad recipe will not disappoint.

Moreover, the health benefits of nopalitos cannot be overlooked, as they are low in calories and high in fiber and antioxidants, making them an excellent addition to any diet. So why not try this recipe for yourself? Not only will it expand your culinary horizons, but it will also provide you with a tasty and nutritious meal that is sure to impress.

Remember, the key to success with this recipe is using fresh ingredients and the proper cooking techniques. Follow the tips and recommendations provided in this article, and you will be on your way to creating a delicious Ensalada De Nopalitos that is both visually appealing and satisfying to the taste buds. Give it a try today and treat yourself to an enjoyable culinary experience!

Ensalada De Nopalitos (Cactus Salad) With Vegan Option

Ensalada De Nopalitos (Cactus Salad) With Vegan Option Recipe

This is a delicious recipe using nopales, which are the paddles of the prickly pear cactus. You can use fresh, cooked nopales if you wish, but we just used jarred cactus. We made this for a dinner party and it was a hit! Cooking time is time spent allowing the cactus to absorb the flavors of the other ingredients. There is no actual cooking involved, unless you decide to cook your own fresh cactus. To save time, chop the veggies while you're waiting for the nopales to marinate.
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Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Course Appetizer/Side dish
Cuisine Mexican
Calories 180.2 kcal


  • 32 ounces nopalitos (get the kind that are sliced)
  • 6 tablespoons white onions, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice


  • 4 tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 2/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2/3 cup queso fresco (vegan cheese can be used for a vegan option) or 2/3 cup Anejo cheese, crumbled or shredded (vegan cheese can be used for a vegan option)
  • 2/3 cup purple onion, sliced into thin rings
  • 6 canned chilies, jalapenos en escabeche cut into chunks
  • 2 avocados, sliced
  • 1 large head romaine lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces


  • Drain the nopalitos and place in a bowl. Cut them into smaller strips, if you prefer.
  • Add the white onion, cilantro, Mexican oregano, and lime juice to the nopalitos. Stir well. Set aside for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to mingle.
  • While waiting, prepare the toppings.
  • When the nopales mixture has sat for 30 minutes, spread the mixture in a 1.5 or 2 inch deep platter.
  • Top with chopped tomatoes, cilantro, shredded cheese, onion, jalapeños, and avocado.
  • Place the lettuce along the edges of the platter.
  • Serve at room temperature.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 268gCalories: 180.2kcalCarbohydrates: 21.4gProtein: 5.8gFat: 10.5gSaturated Fat: 1.5gSodium: 52.3mgFiber: 11.7gSugar: 7g
Keyword < 60 Mins, Vegan, Vegetable
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