Mario Rodriguez’s Cactus Salad (Nopalitos)

Why haven’t I eaten this all my life? Delicious, abundant cactus is a neutral foil for all of this flavor.

Serves 4 -6


  • 1 package (2 cups) cut nopal, diced
  • ¼ cup finely chopped cilantro, including leaves and stems
  • 1 small white or red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium tomato, coarsely chopped
  • 1 to 2 jalapeño peppers, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Small pinch Mexican oregano, optional
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, optional
  • Queso Fresco, optional


  • Boil nopal (cactus) until the slime is gone and texture is al dente. Avoid over cooking.
  • Rinse under cold water to remove any residual slime.
  • In a medium bowl, combine cilantro, onion, tomato, jalapeño, lime juice, and salt. Add oregano and olive oil, if desired.
  • Add the nopal.
  • Season with salt.
  • Let sit for an hour to absorb the flavors.
  • Just before serving, crumble a handful of queso fresco over the salad, if desired.

You can find nopal, packages or “paddles” with spines removed at Super A and Vallarta Markets.