Nopales Salad with Jalapeño Dressing

  • Serves

    serves 4

Beneath the prickly exterior of nopales lies pure, delicious flavor. This recipe is an adaptation of one that author Jennifer Acosta Scott uses at home.


  • 2 jalapeños, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
  • 12 cup sour cream
  • 13 cup cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • Pinch ground cumin
  • Salt
  • 4 medium nopales (prickly pear cactus pads)
  • 1 tomatillo, husked and cored
  • 1 small red onion, peeled and diced
  • 12 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
  • 1 ripe avocado


Step 1

Purée jalapeños, sour cream, 1⁄4 cup of the cilantro, lime juice, and cumin in a food processor until smooth. Transfer to a bowl, season to taste with salt, cover, and refrigerate for 3 hours.

Step 2

Place each cactus pad on a work surface, hold base with a kitchen towel, and shave off thorny bumps on each side with a sharp knife. Blanch cactus and tomatillo in a large pot of boiling salted water over high heat. Remove tomatillo when tender, about 5 minutes, rinse in cold water, and transfer to a plate. Cook cactus until tender, about 5 minutes more, rinse in cold water, and transfer to plate. Cut cactus crosswise into 1⁄2"-wide strips and return to pot to let cook for 2–3 minutes more to remove excess slime. Drain cactus, rinse in cold water, and dry with paper towels. Transfer cactus to a bowl. Dice tomatillo and add to bowl. Add onions and peppers, season to taste with salt, cover, and refrigerate for 3 hours.

Step 3

To serve, halve avocado, discard pit and skin, and thinly slice lengthwise. Toss together avocado, cactus mixture, dressing, and salt to taste in a serving bowl. Garnish with remaining cilantro.

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