chocolate hippos

chopped salad with salsa verde dressing

My dear friend Jane and I were chatting this weekend about how tomatillos have become such a staple in our everyday cooking.  Just a few short years ago, tomatillos would have been considered “exotic” and only purchased once or twice a year when making a special Mexican salsa.  But now, these staples of Mexican cuisine are a part of our weekly shopping lists.  Not just for tomatillo salsa anymore, tomatillos can be used in stews, beverages, and a variety of cooked and raw sauces.

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One of my favorite ways to celebrate my love of Mexico and its cuisine is to incorporate Mexican flavors into things that would already be coming out of my kitchen…and salads are something that I’m always eating, year round.  This salsa verde salad dressing is one of my favorite uses of Mexico’s tomatillos.

I’m giving you the chopped salad recipe, but want to you to know that this dressing works well for any salad.  It is by far one of the most requested recipes I get.  I keeps for a few days in the refrigerator, so you can use it for several days.  To make it creamy, I’ll sometimes add an avocado to the other ingredients in the blender.  Not a fan of spicy?  Use the jalepeno, just be sure to seed and devein it.

Chopped Salad with Salsa Verde Dressing (adapted from Epicurious)

The dressing makes about 1 1/2 cups.  Enough for the salad with some leftover.  The salad serves 4 as an entree or 6-8 as a side dish.  For an entree, I sometime add 1-2 chopped grilled chicken breasts.  Feel free to play around with the ingredients.

For the Salsa Verde Dressing:

3 tomatillos, husked removed (about 8 ounces or 226 g) and quartered

1/2 cup (18 g) cilantro

5 tablespoons (75ml) fresh squeezed lime juice

5 tablespoons (75ml) olive oil

1 clove garlic, peeled

1/2-1 jalapeño, depending upon spiciness of the pepper; seeded if you really don’t want to add much spice

1 bunch (5-6) scallions, white and light green part only OR 1/2 a small white onion, roughly chopped

salt to taste

1 ripe avocado (OPTIONAL)

Place all ingredients, including avocado if using, in blender.

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Puree until smooth, adding more salt and jalapeno if needed.

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Can be made up to 3 days in advance.  Place in glass jar and store in refrigerator.

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Adding the avocado to the dressing makes it thick and creamy.

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But use the same day if pureeing the avocado into the dressing.

For the Salad:

2 cups chopped romain hearts

2 cups chopped red or green cabbage

1 cup chopped bell peppers (use green, yellow, red, orange or a combination)

1 cup chopped jicama, tossed with 1 tablespoon lime juice if prepping ahead

1 cup black beans (rinsed and drained if using canned beans)

1 cup chopped tomato

1 avocado, diced tossed with 1 tablespoon lime juice if prepping ahead; you can also puree the avocado in the dressing step for a creamy style dressing

1/2 cup cotija cheese, a hard cows milk cheese from Mexico.  You can substitute 1/2 cup crumbled feta if you can’t find cotija.

1/2 cup toasted pepitas

If prepping ahead, assemble vegetables on a platter and cover with plastic.

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When ready to serve, place vegetables in a large salad bowl along with cheese and pepitas.  Top with 1/2 of the dressing.

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Toss well and add more dressing to taste.  Add salt to taste if needed.  Serve immediately.

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