Discover the charm of traditional Mexican Christmas Eve food (some families call it Ensalada Nochoebuena) with this simple yet delightful salad recipe. A favorite in my household and many others across Mexico, this salad combines crunchy textures with tart flavors, creating a perfect accompaniment to your holiday feasts.
Celebrating Christmas in Mexico
In Mexico, Christmas Eve is the centerpiece of our holiday celebrations. The night is filled with joyous dining, gift exchanges, laughter, and dance, starting around 8 PM and often lasting well into the early hours.
Christmas Day Traditions
The magic continues on Christmas Day. After the excitement of Santa Claus’s gifts, we gather again at the host’s house for “recalentado” – a delightful tradition of enjoying the previous night’s leftovers. These include transformed dishes like tortas, soups, and sometimes tacos, with each bite bringing back memories of the festive night.
Personal Reflection: Reflecting on my childhood, the joy of Christmas Day remains unmatched. It was a time to revel in new toys, relish delicious leftovers (including this very apple salad), and cherish our family’s company, all without the previous night’s hustle.
Grandma’s Special Touch
My grandmother prepared this special salad each Christmas Eve, always making an extra batch for our inevitable second helpings. Our holiday spread also featured creamy red bell pepper pasta, turkey, stuffing, bacalao (a dried cod dish), cranberry sauce, and occasionally a beet and orange salad.
Mexican Christmas apple salad ingredients
The beauty of this Mexican Christmas salad (also called Ensalada de Noche Buena) lies in its ingredients’ simplicity and freshness. The key is to source the crispiest, sweetest apples you can find. The ingredient list includes:
- Apples: The apples should be crispy and sweet, adding a fresh crunch and a hint of sweetness to the salad. Ideal types include Honeycrisp, Gala, or Fuji apples, known for their crisp texture and balanced sweetness. They should be chopped into uniform pieces to ensure each bite of the salad has a harmonious blend of flavors.
- Celery: Celery adds a refreshing crunch and a slightly peppery, earthy flavor to the salad. It should be finely diced to distribute its flavor evenly throughout the salad without overpowering the other ingredients. The crisp texture of celery contrasts nicely with the softer textures of the other ingredients.
- Canned Pineapple: Pineapple brings a tropical sweetness and acidity to the dish, which balances the flavors. Use canned pineapple for convenience, and chop it into pieces roughly the same size as the apples for consistency in each bite. The juice from the pineapple also adds moisture and a fruity aroma to the salad.
- Pecans: Pecans offer a rich, buttery crunch and a depth of flavor. They should be roughly chopped or broken into smaller pieces. Their nutty taste complements the fruits’ sweetness and the mayonnaise’s creaminess.
- Homemade Vegan Mayonnaise: This ingredient binds the salad together and adds a creamy texture. Using a vegan option can cater to those with dietary restrictions. The mayonnaise should be light and not too overpowering, allowing the natural flavors of the fruits and nuts to shine through. Some families make this Mexican Christmas Eve salad with crema or sour cream.
How to make Mexican apple salad?
Creating this salad is a breeze. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, and voilà, your festive dish is ready to serve!
TIPS TO MAKE THE BEST CHRISTMAS SALAD
- Ingredients. This salad is straightforward to make, but it is essential that all the ingredients are good quality and that the apples are fresh and very crisp.
- Size of fruits and vegetables. It is also important to chop the pineapple and apple about the same size. The celery and walnuts can go much smaller, so each bite perfectly combines flavors.
- To peel or not to peel the apples. I don’t peel the apples; I like the color combination, and the peel doesn’t bother me. But as I always tell you, it is important that you cook to your liking and that of your family.
How to store the salad
This salad stays in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to three days. While freezing isn’t recommended, preparing it a day in advance is fine.
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Mexican Christmas salad
- Cutting board
- Salad bowl
- 2 celery stalks finely chopped
- 1 cup diced canned pineapple, strained
- 3 Apples cored and diced
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped pecans
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise or vegenaise
- pinch of sea salt
- finely chopped parsley
- In a bowl mix carefully all the ingredients but the parsley. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
- Transfer the salad to a platter and finish with the chopped parsley.
Nutritional information of this recipe is only an estimate, the accuracy for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
This post has been sponsored by Autumn Glory Apple by Superfresh Growers – all opinions are my own.