Iowa Writes

Cactus Salad/Ensalada de Nopales

     My recipe is from my hometown in Guerrero, Mexico. I usually make it with my aunts and sisters. The cactus I use here in my recipe, I find in Mexican grocery stores. The cactus is a healthier substitute for meat and is cheaper. I mostly use tomatoes, peppers, and onions. Sometimes I use squash instead of cactus.
     I have been in Iowa City for eight years. I am married and I have two kids— Eric has autism and David has problems with communicating. Sometimes it is really difficult to take care of Eric. It's really tough, especially if we have friends and people over—it overwhelms him—but Iowa City is a great place to find care for our kids.

1 lb of nopal cactus (available in Mexican grocery stores)
Onion to taste
3 tomatoes
2 serrano chile peppers
½ cup cilantro
2 lemons
1 tsp salt

•  Cut the cactus into strips and steam in boiling water for 20 minutes.
•  Wash the cooked cactus in cold water with the other vegetables in a colander.
•  Chop the onions, tomatoes, peppers, and cilantro and put in a serving dish. Put the cactus on top.
•  Add salt and the juice from the lemons.
•  Add cheese if desired and serve with corn chips.

About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

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Anna's story and recipe were included in Food Roots, a cookbook published in 2010 by Local Foods Connection (LFC) in collaboration with an Art and Ecology class at the University of Iowa. Clients and farmers interviewed for this book come from Illinois, Iowa, California, Mexico, Guatemala, Republic of the Sudan, The Togolese Republic, El Salvador, and Thailand.

Local Foods Connection ( enrolls low-income families and the agencies that serve them in CSA programs. CSAs provide a season's worth of fresh produce to consumers while paying local earth-friendly farmers fair prices for the food they grow, raise, and produce. Clients have the opportunity to visit a farm, as well as to learn healthy cooking methods. These opportunities are part of LFC's larger educational program, which covers nutrition, cooking, and environmental issues.

This page was first displayed
on June 22, 2011

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