Salads and Side Dishes

Xochitl Salad

It’s pretty amazing how seeing a certain food can transport us back to a particular time and place in our lives. One little glimpse instantly triggers a great (or not great) experience. I was in the farmers’ market this past weekend and saw radishes. I was instantly reminded of a fabulous dinner date I had with my friend Jenell at the restaurant Xochitl (pronouce so-cheet) in Philadelphia. We split a lot of fun Mexican fusion plates that night, but the radishes brought me back to this one salad. Pumpkin seeds, cotija cheese, and these radishes made an unusual, memory-worthy salad. I bought the radishes and went straight to the grocery store for the remaining items. I made this salad yesterday, and when I went to look at the menu online I realized that I had made it completely wrong. Ha ha. Maybe it’s because it was so long ago, maybe it was because of the accompanying margaritas, but some things got lost in translation. 

So here is my version of the Xochitl salad from Philadelphia. The basic idea is the same but there are a few variations. Instead of grapefruit there were tomatoes, and the avocado I fictitiously remembered in my head. I also have made a Honey Citrus Vinaigrette that pairs better with the ingredients of the salad. I really enjoyed these results and figured I would pay tribute with the name none the less. In case you are wondering, Xochitl means “flower” in Spanish. With all the pinks of the radishes and grapefruit, the salad looks like a blooming flower just in time for Spring. 

Makes: 4 appetizer or side salads
Prep Time: 25 minutes

6-7 cups mixed greens
1 large grapefruit
8 radishes, stems removed and thinly sliced
1 avocado, core removed and sliced into bite sized pieces
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
3/4 cup cotija cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, raw and unsalted
3 tbs honey
2 tbs lime juice
2 tsp cumin, divided
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/3 cup vegetable oil

  •  In a small bowl, mix together the pumpkin seeds, a drizzle of olive oil, 1 tbs honey, 1 tsp cumin, and some sea salt. Make sure the seeds are well coated in the toppings.
  • Heat a small saute pan over low heat. Spray with cooking spray and toast the pumpkin seeds until they start to brown. A good general rule is that when you can smell the seeds (or nuts) they are finished. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  • Cut the top and bottom peel away from the grapefruit. Lay the grapefruit on one of the newly flat edges, and use your knife to remove the outer peel from the fruit.
  • Cut away the segments of the grapefruit  by sliding the knife in between the white rinds. Place the grapefruit segments aside. Squeeze the remaining fruit into a bowl for the dressing. Remove any seeds.
  • To continue the dressing, add 2 tbs honey, the lime juice, 1 tsp cumin, and the minced garlic to the grapefruit juice. Whisk together well, and then drizzle in the vegetable oil to make an emulsion. Keep the dressing cool in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve.
  • To assemble the salad, toss the mixed greens in half of the dressing. Place on individual plates or one large serving dish.
  • Add the segmented grapefruit, radishes, red onion, cotija cheese, and pumpkin seeds in that order. Lightly drizzle the remaining dressing over top, add fresh cracked black pepper, and serve.
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