Mexican Christmas Eve Fruit Salad (Ensalada de Nochebuena)

Mexican Christmas Eve Salad
Robin Grose
  • Total: 75 mins
  • Prep: 40 mins
  • Cook: 35 mins
  • Yield: 6-8 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
324 Calories
4g Fat
74g Carbs
4g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6-8 servings
Amount per serving
Calories 324
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 4g 5%
Saturated Fat 0g 2%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 25mg 1%
Total Carbohydrate 74g 27%
Dietary Fiber 6g 21%
Protein 4g
Calcium 61mg 5%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Fruit salads are traditional for the late-night dinner enjoyed in Mexico on December 24, and this one is one of the very best. Consisting of a colorful combination of fruits and vegetables bathed in a light dressing, Mexican Christmas Eve salad is beautiful, healthful, and delicious.

This very easy recipe has many steps, but many of them consist simply of peeling and slicing the ingredients. The recipe is, in fact, so easy that it is appropriate even for the least experienced of cooks. Though the salad does not keep for very long once it has been put together, the fruits, vegetables, and dressing can be prepared a day ahead and assembled at the last minute.

Serve this salad as they do south of the border, as a first course at a holiday dinner (Christmas or otherwise)—your guests will be delighted.

Ingredients

  • For the Dressing:
  • 2 cups/1/2 L of water
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons apple or wine vinegar
  • For the Salad:
  • 2 medium-sized red beets (or 2 cans of sliced beets)
  • 1/2 head romaine lettuce
  • 1/2 medium jicama
  • 2 red or green apples (or one of each color)
  • 1/2 small to medium fresh pineapple (or 6 rings of canned pineapple)
  • 1 lime (cut into halves)
  • 1 large orange
  • 1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1/3 cup peanuts (shelled and toasted)
  • Cilantro leaves

Steps to Make It

Note: while there are multiple steps to this recipe, this salad is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and cooking.

Make the Dressing

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Place the water and sugar together in a medium-sized pan. Heat, stirring constantly, until you have a light, transparent syrup. 

  3. Pour syrup into a glass jar and add the three tablespoons of lime juice and the vinegar. Place the lid on the jar and shake it well.

  4. Pour the dressing into a little serving pitcher or pretty jar and refrigerate.​

Prepare the Ingredients

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. If you are using fresh beets, wash them well and boil them in enough water to cover them for 30 to 40 minutes, until a fork inserted all the way the center goes in easily. Take the beets out of the water, peel them, and cut them into slices of about 1/3 to 1/2-inch each.  If you are using canned beets, drain them.

  3. Keeping them whole, wash and dry the romaine lettuce leaves. Leave the smaller leaves intact; cut the larger ones in half.

  4. Peel the jicama and cut it into slices the same width as the beets.

  5. If you have fresh pineapple, peel and core it, then cut into slices. If your pineapple slices are canned, drain them.

  6. Leave the apple peel on for color, or peel the apples if you prefer that. Cut them into 6 to 8 wedges per apple, discarding the stem, core, and seeds. Squeeze the lime halves over the apples, then toss them so that the juice with cover all exposed apple surfaces and prevent them from turning brown.

  7. Peel the orange, taking off as much of the white part between sections as you can. Separate the orange into wedges.

  8. Open up the pomegranate and remove the seeds, discarding the peel and tough white membranes.

  9. Pick the cilantro leaves off of the stems.

Assemble the Salad

  1. On a large tray or on individual salad plates, place all of the fruits and vegetables in an attractive arrangement. For example, start with the lettuce on the bottom, then build layers of the rest of the ingredients in contrasting colors.

  2. Sprinkle the pomegranate seeds, peanuts, and cilantro leaves over the top.

  3. Bring the pitcher of dressing out of the fridge so that each diner can pour a little of it onto their salad once it is served.