Photo by Sonia Mendez Garcia

Ensalada de Nopales Asados (Grilled Cactus Salad)

Cuisine: Mexican
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 4-6 servings
Tender, grilled cactus paddles, nopales! Combined with everyone's favorite fresh salsa ingredients and creamy avocado!

My earliest memory of enjoying nopales asados would have to be while visiting my family in Monterrey, Mexico.  I remember the rustic outdoor kitchen, el patio, where we spent many hours as kids. The polished concrete cement floor safely covered from the elements. The best carne asada came off the grill. And course all of the tasty foods that come with carne asada, one being the nopales asados. The grilled cactus is delicious as is, but even more so when mixed with a few fresh ingredients for this ensalada recipe. Technically we call it ensalada or salad, but just give me some good homemade corn tortilla chips and I can make a meal out of this.


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  1. Preheat outdoor grill to medium/high for a few minutes.
  2. When ready, drizzle some oil on the cactus paddles and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Place paddles on hot grill and cook for 7-9 minutes, turning halfway through cooking time. Remove from heat and let cool while you prep the other ingredients.
  4. In a serving dish, combine all of the ingredients in the order listed, minus the avocado and cheese.
  5. Cut the base, if thick, from the cactus. Slice into strips or dice the cactus and mix in to the bowl. Taste for salt and pepper. Spread the sliced avocado evenly over top of salad. Sprinkle with cotija cheese. Serve right away or cover securely and chill for 1 hour.

Chef Notes

Cook clean nopalitos for 8 minutes in simmering water. Cool completely before storing in storage bags for the freezer. Take them out as you need them.

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