Mexican Chopped Salad with Pepitas and Toasted Cumin Vinaigrette

I made this salad recently for a wine tasting party at Margaret and Jim Foley's in Santa Rosa, CA. Their wonderful wine is Petrichor and if you are into wines, you'll want to check them out at Petrichorvineyards.com.  

This salad wasn't part of the tasting. It was a side dish to go along with the carnitas they were cooking over an open fire. 

I wasn't prepared for all the buzz the salad received. Everyone wanted the recipe, so I told them if they signed up for my blog, I would send it. I know all of you will like it, too. A note to all of you at the party, thanks for all your enthusiasm and support. 

Cumin is my very favorite spice. I especially like to toast it in a skillet until it's flavor and aroma are intensified.  When added to a vinaigrette, it takes it to a whole new level of excitement. Most of the salad ingredients can be chopped ahead, which makes the salad a great choice for a small or large party. 

I like to add purple tortillas to the salad. If they have quinoa in them that is even better because those chips are very crisp, hold up well and add color to the salad.

I hope you'll try it and let me know how you like it. 

Toasted Cumin Vinaigrette

2 teaspoons cumin seeds
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
½ cup extra virgin olive oil, to taste
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Salad

1 large romaine heart, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch strips and coarsely chopped (3 cups chopped)
2 oz. baby arugula, coarsely chopped (2 cups lightly packed)
2 medium tomatoes, cored, seeded and diced (1 cup)
1 tart green apple, peeled, cored and diced (2½ cups)
1½ cups fresh corn kernels (2 medium ears of corn)
1½ cups coarsely crushed tortilla chips
2⁄3 cup roasted pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and thinly sliced or chopped

  1.  To make vinaigrette: Toast the cumin seeds in a small dry skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until they become lightly toasted and aromatic, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.  Put the vinegar, honey and cumin seeds into a blender and blend well, scraping sides, as needed. With the motor running, pour the oil into the blender. Puree until smooth, scraping sides as needed. Season with salt and pepper.  
    MAKE AHEAD: Vinaigrette improves in flavor when made ahead. I like to leave it at room temperature overnight. For longer storage, it can be refrigerated for several days.  Use at room temperature and whisk well.  

  2.  To make salad:  MAKE AHEAD: All of the ingredients can be chopped ahead, with the exception of the avocado and apple. Refrigerate in separate plastic bags for several hours or overnight.

  3. Before serving: In a large bowl, combine all salad ingredients, but avocado. Add as much vinaigrette as desired and toss to coat. You will not use all of it. Season to taste. If serving on separate plates, garnish with slices of avocado. If serving from salad bowl, add chopped avocado and toss. Serve immediately.

  Makes 10 servings. 

 

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