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Pepitas and Cilantro Salad

Pepitas and Cilantro Salad

This is a copycat recipe that approximates the Mexican Caesar Salad served in El Torito Restaurants. It’s pretty darned close!


Dressing: (Makes one pint)

  • 1 medium Anaheim pepper, roasted, peeled and seeded*
  • 3 Tbsp pepitas
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 T red wine vinegar
  • 3 T Cotija cheese, grated (or Parmesan)
  • 1 small bunch cilantro, stemmed
  • 3/4 C vegetable oil
  • 3/4 C mayonnaise
  • 2 T water

Salad Ingredients:

  • romaine lettuce, broken in crisp pieces
  • strips of red bell pepper
  • tortilla chips, crumbled (or toast/fry a slivered tortilla)
  • extra pepita seeds


For the Dressing:

  1. Place Anaheim pepper, pepitas, garlic, pepper, salt, vinegar, and cheese in blender or food processor for 30 seconds to mince all ingredients.
  2. Add cilantro bit by bit until blended, then slowly add oil and blend for 1-2 minutes until there are no large bits in the dressing.
  3. Place mayonnaise and water in large bowl and whisk until smooth. Add processor mixture and blend thoroughly.

For the Full Salad:

  1. In large salad bowl, place torn Romaine lettuce and strips of red bell pepper. Add dressing and top with crumbled tortilla chips and extra pepita seeds.
  2. Refrigerate any leftover dressing in airtight container. Dressing may be stored up to 3 days.

To roast the Anaheim pepper, put it on an oiled pan under the broiler, turning frequently as it chars. If you have a gas cooktop, you can turn it over a low flame (un-oiled). Once it is blackened all over, place it in a small paper bag, sealed, to steam 10 minutes, before removing the skin and seeds (or retain charred peel if you like the flavor as I do).

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