Appetizer Salad

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This is a great salad to serve for a group of friends or family to start a big meal. The Ingredients are part of what you would be served in a botanas bar, hence the name. The dressing is inspired by my friend Cheryl’s jalapeño jelly and Dijon mustard that are part of the homemade product line that we sell in Oaxaca. If you do not have jalapeño jelly, substitute apple jelly and add ½ teaspoon minced pickled jalapeños.

Makes 8 to 10 servings

Ingredients

For the dressing:
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons jalapeño jelly
¼ cup fruit vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

For the salad:
1½ heads of green leaf lettuce or other mixed greens, torn into bite sized pieces
½ pound tomatoes (1 medium to large round or 4-5 plum), sliced
6 radishes, sliced
3 avocados, cut into ¼-inch wide slices
9 green onions, sliced
¼ pound quesillo, Muenster, Monterey Jack, or Armenian string cheese, cut into 1½-inch pieces, then shredded
½ bunch cilantro, leaves only
¼ pound chicharrón, broken into 1-inch pieces

Method

For the dressing:
Mix the garlic, mustard, jelly, and vinegar in a bowl. Add the olive oil, whisking well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

For the salad:
Cover an oval serving platter with the lettuce or mixed fresh greens, mounding it in the middle. Add a layer of tomato slices around the mound, leaving a 2-inch border of lettuce. On the inside edge of the tomatoes, alternate the radish and avocado slices. Sprinkle the green onions over the vegetables and add the shredded cheese. Cover all with the cilantro leaves. Before serving, dress the salad and sprinkle the chicharrón pieces over the top. Serve at once with hot soft tortillas ( blandas ) or crispy, hot totopos or tostadas.

If you don´t have chicharrón, substitute bacon bits or sunflower seeds.

Excerpted from ¨Seasons of My Heart, A Culinary Journey Through Oaxaca, Mexico¨
(Ballantine Books, November 1999, ISBN 0-345-42596-0)