Serving
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Cactus Salad
Mexico, Yucatán
  -   Ensalada de Nopales
Makes
Effort:
Sched:
DoAhead:  
1-1/2 #  
**
35 min  
Most
Cactus pads (Nopales) are a very popular vegetable in Mexico and Central America, particularly in drier regions where most vegetables don't grow well. Sticks of cactus pad have been likened to green beans, but they are actually a bit different in both flavor and texture.




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Nopales (1)
Chili Serrano (2)
Onion, red
Tomatoes
Olives, Black (3)  
Cilantro leaves
Oregano, dried
-- Dressing
Olive Oil, ExtV
Wine Vinegar, red
Salt
-- Garnish
Queso Asadero (4)  
Make   -   (25 min)
  1. Use your propane torch to burn the spines off the NOPALES. Scrape with the back side of your prep knife to remove the spine roots. Trim off the thick stem end and the edges (which may not be scraped well). Cut into thin strips about 1-1/2 inches long. For details and method see our Nopales page.
  2. Bring some heavily salted water to a boil and cook the strips until tender but still just a bit crunchy (5 to 7 minutes). Drain and rinse well under cold running water. Drain well.
  3. With your propane torch, blast Serranos black. Brush off the charred skins under running water. Cut off stem end and chop fine. Add to Cactus.
  4. Slice ONION into quarters lengthwise and slice thin crosswise. Add to Cactus.
  5. Dice TOMATOES about 1/2 inch on a side. Add to Cactus.
  6. Slice OLIVES in thirds crosswise. Add to Cactus.
  7. Chop CILANTRO medium. Add to Cactus along with Oregano.
  8. Put Olive Oil, Vinegar and Salt in a small jar so the dressing can be shaken vigorously before pouring.
  9. Tumble Salad until components are well distributed. Shake up Dressing and pour over. Tumble to distribute evenly. Refrigerate until needed (overnight is OK).
  10. Grate CHEESE for garnish.
  11. Place in bowls, garnished with Cheese.
NOTES:
  1. Nopales:   These are easily available in most markets serving a Mexican community. If possible, get whole pads as they should be sliced thinner than commercially sliced pads. If you can get only canned nopales, skip the simmering step, just rinse well. For details and method see our Nopales page.
  2. Chili:   Two Serranos make this salad quite noticeably sharp. If you have doubts, use just one. For details see our Chili Page.
  3. Olives:   This is one of those places where canned California black olives are the right kind to use.
  4. Queso Asadero:   This will be Queso Oaxaca or Queso Quesadilla. Monterey Jack, Mozzarella or Provolone can be used as substitutes. For details see our Varieties of Cheese page.
  5. U.S. measure: t=teaspoon, T=Tablespoon, c=cup, qt=quart, oz=ounce, #=pound, cl=clove in=inch, ar=as required tt=to taste
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