Mexican Christmas Salad

In Recipe by Sean10 Comments

Mexican Christmas Salad

Ensalada de Navidad

Salads are a lot more popular in Mexico than many people realize. Part of the confusion is linguistic; the Spanish word ensalada is largely used in reference to vegetable dishes containing lettuce. Plenty of other vegetable based dishes are made, but the word ensalada doesn’t get used as often. While that’s part of the issue (and obviously not the entire issue, since I’m showing you a Mexican salad that clearly lacks lettuce), another factor is simply what sells in the USA and Canada. Taco trucks sell. Salad trucks don’t.

Fortunately, Mexico is blessed with some truly spectacular produce, so putting together a stunning salad is not too difficult. Around Christmas time (either Christmas Day or Christmas Eve depending on the tradition), it’s common to put together a bright, colourful salad made with typically wintery produce. Citrus tends to feature prominently, but the variations are endless. I was inspired to use beets and candied nuts based on a version by Pati Jinich (who I seriously need to buy a cup of coffee for, because her books totally made my month), though this version departs pretty heavily from hers.

Now, as for this salad… isn’t it pretty? I mean come on! I don’t normally use language like that to describe my food, but this felt like a bouquet on a plate. It’s just so lavish looking! But the best thing about it is that it’s actually wildly simple. The beets are raw (a spiralizer is fantastic, but you can prepare them other ways too), the citrus is simple, and the dressing is a snap. The candied pistachios are the only thing that takes any real effort, and even they’re pretty simple. If you’re unfamiliar with jicama, it’s very easy to love. It’s fantastic raw, with an earthy pear-like taste and a fantastic juicy/crunchy texture. For tips about using it (and more), check out the Recipe Notes below.

So don’t wait for Christmas (unless, you know, it’s Christmas when you read this, in which case… get going). Make this as soon as you can.

Recipe Notes

Most of the ingredients necessary to make this are fairly easy to find, though the specific oranges are fairly seasonal. If you struggle to find blood oranges and cara cara oranges, you can always substitute other oranges, or even other citrus varieties.


Jicama is a large, round root with a papery brown skin. It’s increasingly common in conventional grocery stores, so you should be able to find one without too much struggle. If you have trouble, they are often found in Latin American and Asian grocery stores. Choose a small-to-moderate sized jicama (large ones are often overly fibrous), and make sure to cut away the skin and a bit of the flesh beneath it to get to the more tender part of the root. Ideally, your jicama should be a creamy ivory colour throughout; pale brown flesh will be sour and soft. Even if you do get a less-than-ideal jicama, cut through the center to see if the flesh in the middle is salvageable.


Blood oranges and cara cara oranges contribute intensity of flavour and remarkable colour to this salad, but you could easily substitute other oranges, mandarin slices, or even grapefruit. Use your imagination.


Raw beets might sound a bit odd, but when finely shredded or sliced, they make a fantastic salad, with a unique earthy sweetness. If you find the taste of red beets too intense, you could try using golden beets instead (though obviously the visual impact of the salad will change).


It’s not difficult to candy nuts, so don’t be intimidated if you’ve never done it before. Make sure you keep an eye on your sugar, as it goes from perfectly caramelized to burnt mess pretty quickly.

You could easily swap out the pistachios for peanuts, pecans, or another nut of your choosing.

Nutrition Facts
Mexican Christmas Salad
Amount Per Serving
Calories 379 Calories from Fat 135
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 15g 23%
Saturated Fat 2g 10%
Polyunsaturated Fat 4g
Monounsaturated Fat 9g
Sodium 16mg 1%
Potassium 610mg 17%
Total Carbohydrates 58g 19%
Dietary Fiber 10g 40%
Sugars 41g
Protein 7g 14%
Vitamin A 30%
Vitamin C 205%
Calcium 8%
Iron 8%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Nutritional Summary

It’s nearly all fresh produce, loaded with vitamins, and fairly low in calories and fat. It’s also quite high in dietary fiber, and ridiculously high in vitamin C.

Those candied pistachios are really delicious, but let’s not forget the word ‘candied.’ Resist the urge to eat them all by yourself and you’ll be fine.

Ingredient Pages

No ingredient pages have been written yet for any of the ingredients in this recipe.  Like to see one?  Let me know in the comments below or by email.

Pantry Pages

No pantry pages have been written yet for any of the ingredients in this recipe.  Like to see one?  Let me know in the comments below or by email.

  • Vegetarian
  • Gluten free
  • Dairy-free
  • 30-minutes

Recent Mexican Recipes

Sort By Rand
  • K'uut Bi Ik (Dried Chili Salsa) made with morita chipotles for a smoky and delicious twist on the Yucatecan classic -
    Smoky Dried Chili Salsa (K'uut Bi Ik)
    Nothing finishes a good Mexican recipe like a really great salsa. While cooked and fresh salsas are wonderful, it's hard to beat the simplicity and impact of k'uut...
  • Seafood Soup with Red Pipian Sauce -
    Red Pipian Seafood Soup
    Mole doesn't have to be insanely complicated. Red pipian sauce is packed with flavour, but fairly easy to prepare. It's also easy to transform into a rich, velvety...
  • Spent-hen Chicken Tacos and Soup, made together in an InstantPot electric pressure cooker -
    Instant Pot Mexican Stewing Hen - For Soup & Tacos
    Spent hens (aka stewing hens) have a stronger, richer, deeper flavour that more than makes up for their less-tender meat. When prepared in a pressure cooker, they're easy...
  • Spot Prawns and Rajas (Roasted Poblano Pepper Strips) in a Creamy Buttermilk or Jocoque sauce -
    Spot Prawn and Raja Enchiladas with Buttermilk Sauce
    It's spot prawn season, which means it's time for amazing seafood. It also means that it's time to do some mental math to figure out if it's cheaper...
  • Arroz Verde - Green Rice made with Poblanos and Cilantro -
    Green Rice - Arroz Verde
    The words "Rice Side Dish" might not necessarily evoke excitement, but in this case it definitely should. Mexican rice bridges a gap between plain add-on and complex creation;...
  • Shakshouka Rancheros - Eggs poached in a spiced tomato sauce, loaded with Mexican flavours and ingredients -
    Shakshouka Rancheros
    Eggs poached in a richly spiced tomato sauce make for a popular breakfast throughout the Middle East and much of the Mediterranean. But as luck would have it,...
  • Pambazos con Huevos - perfectly messy Mexican stuffed sandwiches, drenched in guajillo sauce and fried -
    Pambazos con Huevos
    Mexican sandwiches, soaked in guajillo chili sauce and fried, served with spiced potatoes and a creamy egg-tomatillo salsa verde. This is some seriously delicious (and seriously different) messy comfort...
  • Halibut escabeche - cooked and marinated with olive oil, vinegar, garlic and jalapenos -
    Halibut Escabeche
    When you think about making fish, you probably don't think about making it a week ahead of time and letting it sit in the fridge. Many of you...
  • Mezcalita del Ocaso - Mezcal cocktail with grilled pineapple, chili, and hibiscus agua fresca -
    Mezcalita del Ocaso
    A Sunset Mezcal Cocktail, made with grilled marinaded pineapple, lime, cascabel chili, hibiscus agua fresca, and of course bold and smoky mezcal. This is my kind of drink...
  • Carne Asada Borracha - beer and guajillo chili marinated flank steak -
    Carne Asada Borracha
    Carne Asada Borracha basically means drunken grilled meat. That description, while accurate, barely touches on just how amazing and delicious this dish really is. Flank steak is...
  • Pico de gallo, or salsa fresca - uncooked tomato, onion, cilantro, and pepper salsa -
    Pico de Gallo
    Pico de gallo is simple to make and easy to love. This recipe uses multiple measurements to make consistent batches, as well as annotations and variations in case...
  • Smoky Mexican Oyster Mushroom Soup -
    Smoky Mexican Oyster Mushroom Soup
    Mushrooms are not terribly well-represented in Mexican food outside of Mexico, but they're very popular and used to great effect. This recipe from Veracruz utilizes smoky chipotle peppers...
  • Mexican Christmas Salad with beets, oranges, and jicama -
    Mexican Christmas Salad
    If you're stuck in a salad rut, this will get you out in spectacular fashion. Mexican Christmas (or Christmas eve) salads are colourful and loaded with the amazing...
  • Pressure cooker Carnitas con Queso (tender beef bites with crispy melted cheese) -
    Instant Pot Carnitas con Queso
    Deliciously tender Mexican pork, finished with crispy, bubbly cheese. The 'Con Queso' part involves a griddle or frying pan, but all the hard work necessary to get deliciously...
  • Chicken tinga, served as tacos with pico de gallo, avocados and cheese -
    Chicken Tinga
    The "Mexican" section of the grocery store is, generally speaking, something of a misnomer. At best, it's more of a Tex-Mex hub. At worst, it's all about...
  • Puerco Pibil - Yucatecan slow-cooked pork made here with an Instant Pot pressure cooker -
    Pressure Cooker Puerco Pibil
    A classic and unforgettable Yucatecan Mexican dish, modified here for an electric pressure cooker (specifically my beloved Instant Pot). Because this is Diversivore, you know that means that...
  • Yucatecan Mexican Fish Tacos with Green Peach Salsa -
    Yucatecan Fish Tacos with Green Peach Salsa
    Who doesn't love a good taco? Fish tacos have possibly become the all-star in the taco world over the last few years, and for good reason. But...

Share this Recipe

Mexican Christmas Salad with beets, oranges, and jicama -
Mexican Christmas Salad
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
Rate this recipe!
Servings Prep Time
6 servings 20 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
3 minutes 10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6 servings 20 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
3 minutes 10 minutes
Mexican Christmas Salad with beets, oranges, and jicama -
Mexican Christmas Salad
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
Rate this recipe!
Servings Prep Time
6 servings 20 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
3 minutes 10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6 servings 20 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
3 minutes 10 minutes
Candied Pistachios
Servings: servings
  1. Heat a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add the sugar and shake the pan to spread it out evenly. Sprinkle the surface with just enough water to give the sugar the consistency of wet sand. Heat the sugar until it bubbles and begins to turn a very pale caramel colour. Add the pistachios to the pan and stir to cover with the melted sugar. Spread the candied pistachios out and allow them cool (try to separate them as much as possible). Once the pistachios have set you can break them apart by hand or chop them coarsely.
  2. Peel the jicama and cut it into small batons. Place the jicama pieces in a bowl and toss with the lime juice.
  3. Peel the beets and cut off the tops of the beets. To obtain the thin ribbons seen in the photo, use a spiralizer to cut the beets. If you don't have a spiralizer, you can use a mandoline or very sharp knife to cut very thin slices. Set the finished beets aside (don't combine them with the jicama or they will dye them red).
  4. To prepare the oranges, cut off the ends and slicing the peels off, trying to leave as much of the flesh intact as possible. Slice the oranges into thin rounds. Alternately, you can cut the oranges into supremes by slicing the segments out from the membranes surrounding them.
  5. Combine all of the dressing ingredients and whisk together. Set aside.
  6. Arrange the orange slices on a plate, add jicama and a handful of shredded beets, then top with dressing. Sprinkle with candied pistachios and serve immediately.
Powered byWP Ultimate Recipe
text copyright


  1. The colours, the balance of flavour, the promise of the beets’ sweetness and the citrus’ acidity… All that add up to make this a perfect winter salad. If only oranges were in season now… As it is, I just have to pin for future use – maybe around Christmas time!

    1. Author

      Thanks Ksenia! I really love how this came together – both in terms of the taste and the look. I was fortunate that a local market had some citrus a little late into the season, so I was able to stockpile a little bit for later use – but you’re absolutely right, this is something to look forward to in the heart of winter!

  2. Oh that dressing! I can imagine that would go well on an entire slew of fresh fruit and veggie dishes!

    As always you are producing knock-your-socks-off dishes with images that inspire! Keep it up and I am excited to see (and taste) what June has in store!!

    1. Author

      Thanks Amanda! I love the dressing – it’s just such a snap to put together, and it works equally well with the beets, the jicama, and the citrus! I’m glad that you’re still enjoying the site so much. Thanks so much for commenting – and stay tuned for June (hint: more Mexican – hahaha).

  3. Well now. That salad LOOKS divine and with all those flavours merging, I’m sure it TASTES divine too. This is a great idea for a mid winter Canadian salad, thank you Mexico!

    1. Author

      Thanks Bernice! And I know what you mean – it may be Mexican, but this just screams “happy food for Canadians who wish winter was over” to me!

  4. Oh man, this recipe is speaking to me. I love the short and simple ingredient list with flavors that complement each other perfectly. I want this in front of me so I can stare at it for 90 seconds, then devour it.

Leave a Comment