Refreshing cactus salad for summer

A cactus salad is a very easy way to start cooking this ingredient, very new for some people. With a composition similar to vegetables and vegetables, The cactus deserves to be introduced in our daily recipes. Dare to enjoy this recipe!

What is the cactus?

The opuntia It is a genus of plants in the family of cacti. It has more than 300 spices, all native to the Americas. The best known is the cactus or prickly pear.

The cactus we use in the kitchen comes from this plant. It is the edible meat of the plant stems. Its fruits are also well known: prickly pears.

Nutritional parameters

Like the vast majority of fruits and vegetables, the cactus has a large percentage of water. In this case 94% of its weight is water. The rest is made up of carbohydrates, fiber and a very small portion of protein.

Highlights its contribution of calcium and potassium and its richness in polyphenols. As highlighted by a publication of the scientific journal Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences, polyphenols are chemical substances that are found naturally in a large number of plants and, above all, They turn out to be good allies of our health.

The cactus stands out on a nutritional level due to its high content of water, dietary fiber and carbohydrates. In addition, to a lesser extent, it also provides fiber.

Nopal benefits for our health

Antioxidant polyphenols

We have already seen that nopales are rich in polyphenols, which stand out above all for their antioxidant power. Antioxidants They help counteract the negative effects of free radicals in our body.

For the above, They are of great interest in the prevention of chronic and degenerative diseases such as heart disease, type II diabetes, cancer or neurological problems.

Soluble and insoluble fiber

The cactus has a good percentage of fiber, both soluble and insoluble. Thanks to insoluble fiber intestinal cholesterol absorption is reduced and a regulatory effect of intestinal transit also occurs. Soluble fiber helps us, above all, to regulate glucose peaks, since it slows gastric emptying.

In addition, the fiber present in the cactus is fermentable for the intestinal microbiota, since it has mucilages and pectins. This turns the cactus into a food with prebiotic effects that they will help us keep our intestinal flora in good condition.

Read more Vegetable fibers and their benefits in food

Diet supplement

Prickly pear cactus is a good food for those who follow a weight control diet. It is light and provides a small amount of calories. It is digestive and thanks to its fiber exerts a slight satiating effect.

If we prepare light recipes such as the cactus salad that we will see next, We can introduce it as another vegetable in our diet.

Calcium of plant origin

100 grams of cactus give us approximately the same amount of calcium as half a glass of milk or a plate of cooked white beans.

This becomes another vegetable source of calcium for people who follow vegan diets. The calcium intake is necessary to maintain bone mass Y avoid problems such as osteoporosis or osteomalacia.

The nopal in the kitchen

Now that we know the prickly pear cactus and all the benefits it can bring to our health, it is time to start cooking it. Nopal is a very common ingredient in Mexican cuisine. The plant is native to this area, where a great variety of species can be found.

Before you start cooking it is important to prepare it well. It will take a wooden board and a sharp knife. And we warn that it does not hurt to work with gloves, to protect us from their spines.

We put the prickly pear cactus on the table and cut the edges. Then come on removing the thorns from both sides of the penca. Now that it is clean we can start cooking.

The way to cut and cook it It will depend on the recipe we have chosen. To cook our cactus salad it is best to cut it into thin strips.

Prickly pear salad to enjoy this summer

Combining the flavor of the cactus with avocado and tomato we can get a refreshing salad to enjoy this summer.

Ingredients for 4 portions:

  • 4 or 5 pieces of prickly pear cactus
  • 4 pear tomatoes
  • half tender onion
  • 2 medium avocados
  • 100-125 grams of feta cheese
  • 2 lemons
  • virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • some fresh parsley, coriander or mint leaves.

Preparation of the cactus salad:

To prepare the salad it will be necessary to follow the following steps.

  • To start, we cut the nopal into thin strips. We put a large pot with boiling water.
  • Then we cook the cactus until it is tender. We sneak in and reserve to cool.
  • Subsequently, we wash and cut the pear tomatoes into dice. Likewise, we wash and cut the tender onion into small cubes. If we find its flavor very strong we can leave it macerating in water and vinegar an hour before preparing the dish.
  • Then, we peel the avocado and remove the bone. We cut it and sprinkle with the juice of one of the lemons. This way we prevent it from turning black while we have just prepared the salad.
  • We cut the cheese.
  • Next, we add all the ingredients in a salad bowl.
  • Dress with the olive oil and the juice of the second lemon. We season to taste and, finally, decorate with fresh leaves.

Nopales also combine very well with other ingredients such as grated carrots, radishes, peppers, mango, canons, and so on. TOYes, you can prepare endless nopal salads, combining with our favorite ingredients. Do you want to surprise your guests? Serve with corn tortillas.

Read more 4 ways to prepare salads

Nutritional information of the cactus salad

Salads are very suitable dishes to eat in summer, when we tend to be less hungry. They are light and fresh and hardly require previous cooking.

Avocado and olive oil give the dish the healthy fats that our body needs. And it is full of minerals, vitamins and antioxidants that They will help us prevent diseases, inflammations and, in turn, take care of our skin in summer.

This recipe We can accompany it with a serving of grilled fish or chicken and we will have a full lunch. At night instead, it can be a light and delicious dinner, accompanied by yogurt or dessert fruit.