On chile, salt, and lime

August 9, 2008 at 9:44 pm Leave a comment

In traditional Mexican cuisine, almost any food or dish you can imagine is only made better with chile, salt, and lime. When Luis and I first started dating, I remember being shocked when he added all three to his fruit salad. I’m sure I said something like, “You’re putting what on your pineapple? And why are you doing it?” It’s true that I’m half Mexican-American, but it’s not the half with which I’m most familiar.

Well, after a good two years, I was assimilated. I’m even guilty of stowing Tajín seasoning in my purse to sprinkle onto my fruit during lunch.

Our favorite salad uses the chile, salt, and lime combo on avocado and mango. The salad is topped with a toasted pumpkin seed dressing, salty bits of bacon (soy bacon for me), and fresh Mexican cheese—wonderfully refreshing during the 100-plus degree weather we’ve been having here. This go around, we experimented with cheese, using a fresh jalapeño and cilantro goat cheese from West Wind Dairy, purchased at the Austin Farmer’s Market.

We’re perfectly happy eating this salad on its own, or you can add chicken (or tofu chicken) breasts for something more substantial. This recipe is from Rick Bayless’ Mexican Everyday.

Avocado-Mango Salad with Fresh (or Blue) Cheese, Bacon and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Serves four.

  • 1/2 cup hulled untoasted pumpkin seeds
  • 4 slices bacon
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/3 cup vegetable or olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 fresh, hot green chile to taste (a large serrano or a small jalapeño), stemmed (optional)
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • salt
  • 1 large head Boston/butterhead lettuce), leaves separated
  • 2 large ripe avocados
  • 2 ripe mangoes
  • A generous 3/4 cup coarsely crumbled Mexican queso fresco or mild blue cheese (Gorgonzola is great)

Cook one: Arrange the bacon slices between a double layer of paper towels on a microwaveable plate. Microwave on high (100 percent) for 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 minutes, until crispy.
Cook two:
Juice the limes. Wash and separate lettuce leaves.

Cook one:
Pour the pumpkin seeds into a small skillet and set over medium heat. Once the first one pops, stir constantly until all have popped from flat to round, about five minutes. Scoop about one-third of the seeds into a blender jar and add the lime juice. Pour the remainder into a small dish. Return the skillet to medium heat and measure in the oil. Add the garlic and optional chile. Cook, stirring regularly, until the garlic is soft and lightly browned, about five minutes. Scrape the oil, garlic and optional chile into the blender. Add the honey and 1/2 teaspoon salt. process until smooth. Taste and season with more salt if you think necessary. It should be highly seasoned.
Cook two: Divide the lettuce among four dinner plates. Pit the avocados, scoop the flesh from the skin and cut it into slices. Peel the mangoes, then cut the flesh from the pits. Slice to match the avocado pieces. Arrange the avocados and mangoes in the center of the lettuce.

Both: Drizzle the dressing over everything, then sprinkle with the cheese and the reserved toasted pumpkin seeds. Crumble the bacon and strew it over the top, and the salad is ready.

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Entry filed under: Cheese, Recipes built for two, Salads. Tags: , , , , .

Los Dos Cooking School Putting your money where your mouth is, so to speak

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