Ensalada de Nopales (cactus pad salad) 

By Veronica Gomez, UC Davis Nutrition Peer Counselor

I wrote an article last month about not abandoning culture in the pursuit of healthy-eating 

In that blog I mentioned Nopales— a staple ingredient in Mexico. I am happy to share an authentic but student-friendly recipe that utilizes this nutrient-packed food. This is Ensalada de Nopales, a salad that is refreshing and the perfect side to any meal:

List of Ingredients:

  • 1 jar of pre-cooked nopales (can be found in the Hispanic aisle in major grocery stores like Safeway )
  • 2 ripe roma tomatoes
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1 tbsp of the juice found in canned jalapeños 
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Cilantro to taste
  • Salt to taste


  • Drain and rinse the nopales. Nopales release a moisture that can be thick and unappetizing to some. To mitigate this, simply drain and rinse with water until thinned down.
  • Place rinsed nopales in a mixing bowl (optional: dice the nopales)
  • Dice your tomatoes, onion, & jalapeno and add to mixing bowl
  • Open the canned jalapeños and collect some juice from the can. Add this to the mixture in order to get a unique citrus flavor (optional: dice up a pickled jalapeño & add to mixture for extra spice)
  • Add the juice of 1 lemon
  • Combine all the ingredients and add chopped cilantro and salt to taste
  • Enjoy with tortilla chips or as a topping on your favorite meals!
  • Store in an airtight container and place in fridge for up to two weeks


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