For El Torito Salad Lovers...

This is really shifting gears from my recent posts, but I just finished making a batch of this salad dressing and it's so good, I just thought I would share it with my California friends who remember El Torito's Mexican Caesar Salad. You can find this recipe on the Internet very easily, but I thought I would add a few comments and share it on my blog. It's really easy and tastes SO good (if you like Cilantro).

I use my Magic Bullet Blender attachment. It works great. Roasting Anaheim green chiles has gotten easier for me the longer I've done it. I also roast them to make homemade chile rellenos. Lay them on a cookie sheet lined with foil. Put them in the broiler and watch them closely. If you have a convection oven, even better because they won't burn quite as fast. You want the skin to pop and turn brown (not black). Turn them over and let them brown on each side. When you take them out of the oven, quickly wrap them in paper towels (all together) and just set them aside for five or ten minutes. They will steam and the skin will come apart from the flesh. When they have cooled to the touch, hold them under running water and gently peel the skin, then open them up and remove all the seeds and any stringy filaments inside. They are now ready to process. This recipe calls for two Anaheim Chiles. I use three or four. I LIKE FLAVOR. I also use Parmesan Cheese and it's delicious. No need to run all over town looking for Mexican Cheese.

I can only find the pre-made tortilla strips at Kroger. I get roasted and salted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) at Publix. I used to buy them at Food Lion and roast them in the oven myself. But since finding them roasted at Publix, I have been able to skip that step. I also use garlic cloves from a jar (in olive oil) rather than peel a fresh one. The recipe calls for two small bunches of cilantro. I use fairly large bunches -- the size that comes in the grocery store. (Some are larger than others but I always use every bit.)

Cilantro Pepita Dressing

2 medium Anaheim chiles, roasted, peeled and seeded
1/3 cup roasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
12 ounces salad oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
5 tablespoons grated Cotija cheese (or Grated Parmesan)
2 small bunches cilantro, stemmed
1 1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup water

Corn Tortilla Strips
Romaine lettuce, rinsed and spun dry
1/3 cup finely grated Cotija cheese (or Grated Parmemsan)
Roasted red bell pepper, peeled and cut into julienne strips (optional)
1/2 cup pepitas (roasted pumpkin seeds)

Place all dressing ingredients except cilantro, mayonnaise and water in a blender or food processor. Blend approximately 10 seconds, and then add cilantro little by little until blended smooth. Depending on size of blender, it may be necessary to do in batches. Place mayonnaise and water in a large stainless steel or glass bowl, and mix with a wire whip until smooth. Add the blended ingredients to the mayonnaise mixture, and mix thoroughly. Place in an airtight container and refrigerate. Will keep for three days. Yields 1 quart.

To assemble salad:
Cut corn tortillas into matchstick-size strips. Heat oil in sauté pan; fry tortilla strips until crisp. Remove with slotted spoon, and drain on paper towels. Set aside. (OR-what I do-buy pre-made tortilla strips at Kroger in the produce/deli section. *Garden Fresh Gourmet, Salted, Kettle Style Tortilla Strips in an orange and green bag.)

Tear romaine into bite-size pieces. Place greens on salad plates and ladle approximately 2 ounces of cilantro pepita dressing on each salad. Sprinkle each dish with Cotija/Parmesan cheese and tortilla strips. Arrange four red pepper strips like spokes on the top of each salad, and garnish with whole pepitas. (You can also toss in a large bowl to coat the lettuce more evenly and serve already dressed as you would a traditional Caesar.)

Note: Cotija cheese is a hard cheese, similar to Parmesan. It is available at some grocery stores and most Mexican markets.

**This salad is identical to (or even better than) the real thing from California. The process will take you a little longer the first time you try it, but once you get the hang of it, it goes faster. It also lasts longer than 3 days, in my opinion. If you make the dressing ahead (the morning of or the night before) you can throw the salad together really quick with a hot Mexican dish and really impress your friends. Everyone I have served it to loves it, except John. (He's a true-blue thousand island guy.)


Lynda said…
I wrote the recipe down last night
It is so good. Thanks for posting it.

See you next week. Love you
Shari said…
I'm really looking forward to seeing you, Lynda. I love you too!