El Torito’s Southwestern Caesar Salad

El Torito’s Southwestern Caesar Salad

2 corn tortillas
Oil — for frying
1 large romaine lettuce head – rinsed, spun dry
Cilantro-Pepita Dressing – (see below)
1/2 cup grated cotija cheese – see * Note
1 red pepper — roasted, and cut into julienne strips
1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

1 medium Anaheim chile – roasted, peeled and seeded
3 tablespoons roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1 large garlic clove
1/8 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons grated cotija cheese
1 small bunch cilantro – stemmed
3/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons water

* Note: If cotija cheese is unavailable, use any hard grating cheese, such as cacique or even Parmesan.

Cut tortillas into matchstick-size strips. Heat oil for deep-frying and add tortilla strips. Cook a few seconds until crisp. Remove with slotted spoon, drain and set aside.

Tear romaine lettuce into bite-size pieces. Place greens on six salad plates and ladle Cilantro-Pepita Dressing on each salad. Sprinkle each dish with cotija cheese and tortilla strips. Arrange four red pepper strips like spokes on top of each salad and garnish with pepitas.

Cilantro-Pepita Dressing: Place chile, pepitas, garlic, pepper, salt, oil, vinegar and cotija cheese in blender or food processor. Blend about 10 seconds, then add cilantro, bit by bit, until smoothly blended. Place mayonnaise and water in large stainless-steel bowl and whisk until smooth. Add blended chile mixture and mix thoroughly. Place in airtight container and refrigerate. Dressing may be stored up to three days. (Makes about 2 cups)

This recipe yields 6 servings.

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