Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A Salad Well Worth The Skillet

Updated May 24
I kind of had a theme going on this week - it lasted a whole two meals, but that's still a theme. Food with Spanish words in the title. Weak theme, but it opened up a broad variety of cuisine and easily could have lasted months. Except of course, it didn't. After the calabacines rellenos, I moved on to a Mexico-inspired salad from Rick Bayless' cookbook Mexican Everyday. The title made me think that maybe it would be something that could be made anyday.

Toasted pumpkin seeds-while I messed up the first time - still didn't prevent dinner from being on the table within an hour of my starting to cook (though I didn't spend any time for photos either, and it shows.) Mom helped speed things up by washing the lettuce and cutting the mango (though I decided not to cut my mangoes the way his pictures suggest and going back to cutting in in the skin and then inverting it and cutting it out.) My garlic cloves were large and mellow, so my dressing came out nice and creamy - and had to be liquified with another half of a lime, leaving the dressing more lime-y than anything else. But I still thought it was quite good. I was excited to have the leftovers for lunch the next day, even though putting mango, avocado, queso fresco, and toasted pumpkin seeds in the same compartment takes away the crunch.

I'm going to make it again this week for Dad and see what he thinks of it. And I'll try it with pan-fried onions instead of bacon on mine and hopefully the chile won't fall through the cart at Whole Foods again.


Making it a second time, it was definitely a keeper. It's relatively simple to make, and even though the dressing requires to use of a skillet, it is worth it.
Ensalada de Aguacate y Mango con Queso Fresco, Tocino, y Pepitas Tostadas
Avocado and Mango Salad with Queso Fresco, Bacon, and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
from Rick Bayless' Mexican Everyday
Serves 2

1 to 2 slices bacon
1/4 cup hulled untoasted pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
3 Tablespoons walnut oil (or other oil, such as olive)
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 serrano chile, seeded
2 teaspoons honey
2 cups Boston lettuce leaves (about 1/2 to 2/3 of a head of lettuce)
1 ripe avocado
1 ripe mango
1/3 cup coarsely crumbled queso fresco

Arrange bacon slices between double layer of paper towels on a microwave-safe dish and microwave on high 2 to 4 minutes, or until crisp (be careful not to burn)

Pour the pumpkin seeds intwo a small dry skillet set over low-medium heat. Stir occasionally until first one pops, and then stir constantly until they have all popped from flat to round, about 5 minutes. (This requires attention, or the seeds burn before they pop).
Scoop about 1/3 into a blender and add lime juice. Reserve remaining in a bowl (just not in the skillet).
Return the skillet to medium heat. Add oil, garlic, and chile. Cook, stirring regularly, until the garlic is soft and browned, about 5 minutes. If blender is plastic, let cool a bit and then scrape into blender. Otherwise, scrape into blender, add honey and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and process until smooth. Add more salt to taste.
Divide lettuce among the two plates. Put avocados, slice, and scoop flesh from skin and divide among the center of the two plates. Cut mangoes in slices similar to the avocado and place on salad. Drizzle the dressing over the salad. Sprinkle with cheese, remaining pumpkin seeds, and crumble bacon over top.
Serve soon or bacon and seeds will loose their crunch.

Note: I've changed it a bit so the dressing comes out a bit thick and gloppy and more lime-y, but I like it this way. It also makes for a great a dip.

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