Raw Nopalitos Salad

Prickly Pear Cactus with Cucumbers, Jicama, Cilantro & Lime Juice

Raw Nopalitos Salad

On a trip to a Mexican grocery store, our friend Kathryn spotted Nopalitos (nopales or prickly pear cactus, with spines removed and chopped into strips). She was excited because her Mexican sister-in-law had served a delicious ensalada de nopales, and she wanted to make one. This recipe was the result.

Traditionally, nopalitas are cooked before being added to salads or other dishes. We love the raw crunchiness, which reminds us of green peppers, with raw cucumbers and jicama, cilantro, lime juice, olive oil, salt & pepper. Other delicious additions include avocado, cherry or grape tomatoes, minced jalapeno or serrano pepper and garlic.

Nopalitas salad can be made ahead a few hours, but cilantro, tomato and avocado should be added just before serving and gently tossed into the salad.

Total prep & cook time: 20 min

4 Servings

Nutrition Data, 202g Serving: 96 cal, 15g carb, 4g fat, 10mg sodium, 6g fiber, 1g protein, 1g sugar, low Cholesterol, low sodium, good source Potassium, Very Good Source Dietary Fiber, Vit. C, Vit. K, Magnesium. Estimated glycemic load 3


  • 2 - 3 cups nopalitos, cut into thin strips or small chunks
  • 1 cup peeled jicama, in 1/2 inch dice
  • 1 small cucumber, peeled, quartered and sliced
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Optional: 1 jalapeno or serrano pepper, seeded and diced in small pieces
  • Optional: 1 or 2 cloves garlic, peeled, stemmed and minced
  • Optional: 1 firm ripe avocado, peeled and chopped in 1/2 inch dice
  • Optional: 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Optional: 1/4 cup toasted sunflower or pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
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  1. Prepare nopalitos, cucumber, jicama, optional hot pepper and garlic. Toss with olive oil, lime juice, salt & pepper to taste
  2. Gently stir in cilantro leaves and optional avocado or sliced tomato or sunflower seeds just before serving

Savvy Veg Recipe Tips:

This recipe can be chilled before serving, but it tastes best served at room temperature.

Buying Nopalitos: Besides Mexico, prickly pear cactus can be found in in grocery stores or Mexican markets in the southern U.S. or big American cities.

If you catch someone at the store chopping and bagging napolitas, you can buy the cactus pads whole and chop them to the size you want, or you can get the exact amount you want bagged fresh for you.

Fresh is best for nopalitos - they don't keep well longer than overnight, as they tend to go brown and slimy. Plan on making your salad asap after getting home with your cactus.

For more info on nopalitos, see this SF Gate article or this article from Gourmet Sleuth

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