Memories and healthy recipes for your dinner table.

Mexican Caesar Salad with Cilantro Pepitas Dressing

One evening, we decided to stop off at a local taco place for dinner. We love it because we can get three tacos for a dollar. For two dollars, we can feed our whole family. That night, however, I noticed they had a new salad on the menu and decided to try it. I had never heard of a Mexican Caesar salad. It seems logical since the guy who theoretically invented the Caesar Salad, did so in Mexico. The salad was delicious. I asked the manager if I could have the recipe for the dressing. Unfortunately for me, he did not know it because the dressing comes into the restaurant premade. Apparently, I was not the first to ask him for it either. I found this recipe for the dressing on Pepitas are used in both the salad and the dressing. Therefore, toast the 1/4 cup called for in the dressing plus extra for the salad.

Creamy Cotija Cilantro Chile Dressing:
2 Pasilla or other fairly mild large chile peppers, roasted, skinned and seeded
1 small bunch cilantro washed and stemmed, about 1 cup
1/4 of a small wheel of Cotija Cheese, about 1/4 cup packed.
1/4 cup Pepitas (roasted salted pumpkin seeds)
2 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
3/4 Canola or mild tasting olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled
Large pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup mayonnaise or plain yogurt
A little water to thin, if necessary

Roast the chilies using your preferred method. Remove the skin, stems and seeds. Place in the bowl of a food processor. Add the garlic, cheese, oil and vinegar, salt and pepper and the pepitas. Pulse, 15 seconds until smooth. Add the cilantro leaves. Pulse off and on and then let run until smooth. Mix in the Mayonnaise until creamy. Place in a jar in the fridge- will keep about 3-5 days. You may need to add a few tablespoons of water to thin for drizzling if it sets up. Serve over all kinds of salad -it’s really good over grilled chicken or pork.

The Salad:
Cooked grilled seasoned chicken or already cooked Rotisserie chicken, chopped
Toasted Pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
Tomatoes, diced
Coljita cheese or other cheese such as parmesan or feta
tortilla chips or strips

Place the pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat or in the oven at 350. Toast until light brown color about 3-5 minutes. Remove the seeds from the pan to a small bowl to cool. In a bowl, tear or cut the lettuce into bite size pieces. Add the tomatoes, pepitas, cheese and chicken. Top with the tortilla chip strips.

***To make the homemade version of tortilla strips cut corn tortillas into strips. Fry in heated oil until light brown. Or coat with olive oil and bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes.