Cactus and Corn Salsa

If your farmers market doesn’t sell cactus, you can find it in most Latin grocery stores in the produce aisle, either whole or already prepped and chopped.

You can also buy it in a jar in the Mexican food aisle of your grocery store, but fresh paddles taste far better. You’ll want fresh paddles for this recipe.

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 3 cups


  • 2 nopales cactus paddles, spikes removed*
  • 2 green tomatoes, cored and cut in half
  • 1/2 large, white onion, peeled and cut into 4 chunks
  • 2 jalapeños, red or green, more or less to taste
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil plus more to grease baking sheet
  • 1 cup frozen corn**
  • 1 cup cilantro, stems removed
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 2 hot chili peppers, stems removed, more or less to taste
  • Juice from 1/2 a lime, about 1 Tbsp
  • 2 Tablespoons tequila, optional
  • 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • Salt to taste
  • Tortilla chips, to serve

*This recipe is designed for the whole paddles, but you may be able to make it with bagged cut cactus for nopalitos if that's all that is available in the market. Just arrange them close together on the roasting pan while you roast the vegetables so they don't dry out.

**You can also use freshly cooked corn or grilled corn, stripped from the cob. In this case, skip the corn roasting in step 2, and just add to the salsa in the last step.


1 Prep cactus paddles: Heat oven to 425°F. Working with a large sharp knife with a fairly straight edge, scrape off any remaining prickles or nubs on the cactus paddles.

Cut the paddles crosswise into 1-inch thick strips. Lightly grease a baking sheet with olive oil.

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2 Roast cactus paddles with onion and jalapeños in oven: Place cactus, green tomatoes, white onion and jalapeños on the baking sheet in preheated oven for 12 minutes. The cactus should still be slightly crisp when pierced with a fork.

3 Roast corn kernels: Heat a cast iron or stick-free skillet with 1 teaspoon olive oil over medium heat on the stove top. When the pan is heated, add frozen corn and spread out in an even layer. Do not stir the corn. Allow it to roast in the hot pan for about 2 to 3 minutes.


The corn should become browned and roasted. You can check by gently flipping a few pieces with the corner of a spatula.

When corn is browned, stir and roast for another 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Place corn in a small bowl and set aside.

4 Pulse in food processor: Place the oven roasted vegetables in a food processor with the cilantro, garlic, lime juice, tequila, oregano and salt. Purée until nearly smooth, about 30 seconds.

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(Be careful when you remove the lid on the food processor—the heat released from the peppers will zoom up your nose and down your throat, so don’t stand directly over the open food processor.)

5 Stir in roasted corn: Pour the salsa into a serving dish. Stir the roasted corn into the finished salsa. Allow to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Serve with tortilla chips.