Cactus Salad

Total Time:
3 hr 10 min
3 hr
10 min


  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh or prepared cactus paddles or nopales, needles removed
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 Italian Roma tomatoes, cored, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1/2 small red onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1 to 2 medium serrano chiles, stemmed, seeded and finely diced
  • 2 bunches cilantro, leaves only, chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Cotija or Anejo cheese
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 to 6 lettuce leaves
  • 1 avocado, peeled, seeded and sliced for garnish
  • 1/4 cup cracked black pepper garnish, recipe follows
  • 2 tablespoons cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Preheat grill or broiler. Place cactus paddles in a bowl and toss with 1/4 cup of the olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Grill or broil the paddles until grill marks appear on each side, or they turn dark green with black patches, about 3 to 5 minutes. Set aside to cool to room temperature. Cover and chill 2 to 4 hours or overnight. Cut cactus into 1/2-inch pieces. In a large bowl, combine the cactus, tomatoes, onions, chiles, cilantro and cheese with the remaining 1/2 cup oil, the vinegar, the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and pepper. Toss well. Serve on plates lined with lettuce leaves, and garnish with avocado slices sprinkled with cracked pepper garnish.

  • In a small bowl, stir all the ingredients together. Spoon over vegetables or drizzle lightly over dressed salads as a garnish.

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Cooking Tips
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4.7 3
4 stars for adding olive oil and red wine vinegar. Too oily and not authentic. Instead use lemon from several juicy lemons. That will marry all the flavors of nopale, tomato, red onion, cilantro and jalapeño. Yes, I added jalapeño instead of cerrano pepper. Milder was preference. This is taking pico de gallo up 10 notches when you add nopale, corn, queso fresco, and avocado. Tastes so good with tortilla chips as a starter/appetizer. Or as a side to red snapper or add to tilapia fish tacos. item not reviewed by moderator and published
I can't say enough good things about this dish. It is absolutely delicious! I used a lot less olive oil to cut down on the fat. Also, you can use the cactus mix as a filling for tacos. YUM! item not reviewed by moderator and published
No need to prepare the paddles yourself, most Mexican produce stores will have the paddles cooked and diced, ready to use, I guess if you are in the Western US. I suggest a can of corn kernels (drained and rinsed) item not reviewed by moderator and published

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