The kind of salad Mexican restaurants should serve

citrus-chile-salad.jpg

Have I told you that I watch a little too much Food Network?  I have to confess that I do.  The worst part is that I have begun to watch Food Network when I am at the gym.  I enjoy it, but I feel self conscious like I am a cliché:  the tubby girl watching Food Network while she works out.  Now the reason why I am making this admission to you is because of Rachel Ray.   For a while there, I was addicted to 30-minute meals.  The thing I noticed after watching scores of episodes was that although Rachel Ray uses such short cuts as bagged pre-cut veggies and bagged pre-shredded cheese, she always takes the time to make salad dressing from scratch.  I tried making a couple of her dressings and they weren’t half bad.  I had made some salad dressings from scratch before watching 30-minute meals, but watching that show made me realize that there was really no reason to buy salad dressing.  A good dressing could be constructed in a few minutes.

 

I often make Mexican style meals because they are as easy to improvise as pasta.  Do you have a bag of corn tortillas, a jar of salsa, some leftover chicken and some cheese?  Well, my friend, you have enchiladas!  One day when I was tossing things together, I decided a nice crispy green salad would be great to go with our meal.  I didn’t want a regular creamy style dressing and vinaigrette didn’t seem right either.  I hate it when you go out for Mexican food and they can’t give you a salad that seems authentic.  The choices are usually Ranch or Bleu cheese.  I wanted something that felt more like the simple tomato and cucumber salad my friends make but would also be reminiscent of something like ceviche.  I had a lot of citrus fruit and the idea of something tart sounded so good.  I thought about what would compliment the flavor of orange juice and lime juice and chili powder sounded good.  I improvised a dressing and loved the result.  I made it maybe one more time and forgot about it.

 

Tonight, I decided to use some leftover chicken to make quesadillas.  As I was making guacamole, I realized I had plenty of limes left over and a bowl of oranges.  I made the citrus chili dressing from earlier in the summer, adding ground cumin to the recipe.  I scavenged in the fridge and found all sorts of yummies to make salad with.  In a stroke of insight, I decided to add fresh cilantro and chunks of cantaloupe to the salad.  Those two additions to the salad complimented the dressing well. 

 

Salad is a lot of work but I felt really good about balancing out a cheesy meal with something really healthy.  I hope you like the result of my improvised salad.  As a suggestion, add tomatoes and avocado if you have them.  I had to use mine up for the guacamole but they would add even more flavor to the salad.

Cilantro and cantaloupe green salad with citrus chili dressing

Dressing:

 

½ cup olive oil

 

juice of 1 orange

 

juice of 1 lime

 

1 tsp chili powder

 

½ tsp ground cumin

 

salt to taste

 

Salad:

 

½ head of red leaf lettuce, washed and torn into bite sized pieces

 

½ large cucumber, peeled and chopped

 

6 radishes, sliced

 

1 small red pepper, sliced

 

¼ – ½ cantaloupe, chopped

 

½ red onion, thinly sliced

 

2 handfuls chopped cilantro

 

Mix together citrus juices, chili powder, cumin and salt.  Slowly pour oil into citrus mixture as you whisk with a fork or small whisk.  Set dressing aside.  Chop and slice all of your salad ingredients and add them to a large bowl.  Add as much dressing as you like to the salad and toss.  This makes close to a cup of dressing and the dressing is pretty thin.  I use it all but you may want to add less, toss and taste.  If you feel like you need it all, add it all.

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5 Comments

  1. me said,

    September 29, 2008 at 1:04 am

    try it

  2. Linda said,

    April 25, 2009 at 11:18 pm

    Excellent dressing – light and refreshing!

  3. January 6, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    […] dressing to go with a batch of enchiladas I made the other day. It was inspired by a recipe from here. Fresh, healthy and yummy. Do make sure you use fresh citrus […]

  4. March 10, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    […] dressing to go with a batch of enchiladas I made the other day. It was inspired by a recipe from here. Fresh, healthy and yummy. Do make sure you use fresh citrus […]

  5. Roxy said,

    July 31, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    This was a hit! I added a splash of simply mango orange juice to thicken the dressing up a bit. The cantaloupe and avocado really make the salad a nice and hearty dish!


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