While in Oaxaca I had the most amazing ensalada de nopales asados at a restaurant called La Biznaga. As soon as I took a bite, I told myself I was going to try to recreate it at home and share it with you. It’s hard to believe it has been almost a year since my visit to Oaxaca.
First of all, nopales were not something I grew up eating, so it is still very rare for me to cook with them. Now, nopales seem to be everywhere, and I’m excited to continue to develop recipes with them. You might remember this Nopales con Huevo dish and this very popular cactus smoothie.
My mouth is watering just remembering the unique flavors and ingredients of the salad I tasted in Oaxaca. I tried my best to recreate the flavors, but something was missing, and I can’t put my finger on it. Don’t get me wrong, this salad is beyond delicious, but an added smoky and roasted flavor is absent. I’m not sure if it was an ingredient that the restaurant added to the marinade or a charcoal grill was used to grill the nopales and bell peppers?
This salad first starts by grilling nopales and bell peppers. It was my very first time grilling nopales and I found this video very helpful. I would highly recommend this method! Slicing and scoring the paddles allows for the gelatinous liquid to escape and evaporate.
Nopales can also be cooked on an outdoor grill, but I chose to use my griddle pan.
In this video you will hear a lady sharing stories of her childhood – her stories remind me of the humble and happy childhood stories my grandma would share with me.
After the nopales and bell peppers are roasted allow them to cool while you chop tomatoes, red onion, black olives, and avocado. Once cooled, slice the grilled cactus paddles and chop the bell pepper.
All the ingredients are then combined and drizzled with a dressing made with tangy fresh lime juice and a combination of salty soy sauce, smoky maggi jugo seasoning sauce, and worcestershire sauce.
Serve this salad as a side dish to accompany dinner and any leftovers can be sautéed with eggs for breakfast.
Ensalada de Nopales Asados (Grilled Cactus Paddle Salad)
- 4 whole nopales, cactus paddles
- 1 red bell pepper
- kosher salt
- 3 Roma tomatoes, chopped
- 1/2 white onion, chopped
- 1 jalapeño, diced
- 1 avocado, chopped
- 2.25 ounces olive, sliced
- Remove any spines on the nopales by running a sharp paring knife against the grain of the spines.
- Slice and score the nopales, keeping base intact.
- Generously sprinkle nopales and bell pepper with salt.
- Cook nopales and bell pepper on a griddle pan or grill on medium-high for 4 to 5 minutes per side. Feel free to cook longer if you do not want to see any baba.
- Remove from heat and let cool.
- In a large bowl combine tomato, onion, jalapeño, avocado, and olive slices.
- Chop roasted bell peppers and cut nopales into strips and add to the bowl.
- In a small bowl combine lime juice, soy sauce, olive oil, Maggi Jugo seasoning sauce, and salt.
- Drizzle dressing over salad and lightly toss.
- Serve salad slightly chilled.