El Torito Mexican Caesar Salad

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Ingredients

Cilantro Pepita Dressing

  • 2 medium Anaheim chiles, roasted, peeled and seeded
  • 1/3 cup roasted pepitas (roasted shelled pumpkin seeds)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 12 ounces vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 5 tablespoons grated Cotija cheese *
  • 2 small bunches cilantro, stemmed
  • 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup water

Salad

  • 2 corn tortillas
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 large (or two small) heads romaine lettuce, rinsed and spun dry
  • 1/3 cup finely grated Cotija cheese*
  • Roasted red bell pepper, peeled and cut into julienne strips
  • 1/2 cup pepitas (roasted shelled pumpkin seeds)

* Cotija cheese is a hard cheese, similar to Parmesan. It is available at some grocery stores and most Mexican markets.

Instructions

  1. Cilantro Pepita Dressing: Place all dressing ingredients except cilantro, mayonnaise and water in a a blender of food processor. Blend approximately 10 seconds, then add cilantro little by little until blended smooth. Depending on size of blender, it may be necessary to do in batches.
  2. Place mayonnaise and water in a large stainless steel bowl, and mix with a wire whip until smooth. Add the blended ingredients to the mayonnaise mixture, and mix thoroughly. Place in an air-tight container and refrigerate. Will keep for three days. Yields 1 quart.
  3. Salad: Cut corn tortillas into matchstick-size strips. Heat oil in sauté pan; fry tortilla strips until crisp. Remove with slotted spoon, and drain on paper towels. Set aside.
  4. Tear romaine into bite-size pieces. Place greens on salad plates and ladle approximately 2 ounces of cilantro pepita dressing on each salad. Sprinkle each dish with Cotija cheese and tortilla strips.
  5. Arrange four red pepper strips like spokes on the top of each salad, and garnish with whole pepitas.

Serves 6 to 8.

Source: The San Diego Union Tribune Food section - April 4, 1996