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Mexican Chopped Salad with Cornbread Croutons

From Meatless All Day by Dina Cheney ($19.95, The Taunton Press, 2014)

35 minutes prep time          Serves 4

Prepare the dressing right before serving for the most vivid green color, and make sure the lettuce is cold and dry, for maximum crispness.

  • 4 c 1-inch cubes baked corn muffins or corn cakes
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1⁄2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1⁄2 tsp ancho chile powder
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1⁄2 c low-fat mayonnaise
  • 1⁄2 c fresh cilantro leaves
  • Heaping packed 1⁄4 c coarsely chopped fresh chives
  • 1⁄4 c plus 11⁄2 tsp fresh-squeezed, strained lime juice, divided
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 3⁄4 tsp seeded coarsely chopped jalapeño
  • 1 tsp lime zest
  • 11⁄2 tsp coarse salt, divided
  • 5 grinds black pepper
  • 4 c coarsely chopped cored romaine heart leaves, washed and spun dry
  • 1⁄2 lb sharp Cheddar or Monterey Jack, cubed
  • 1 packed c fresh, raw corn kernels
  • 1 c matchstick slices peeled jìcama
  • 1 c halved cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1⁄4 c plus 2 Tbsp thinly sliced radishes
  • 2 ripe avocados, pitted and sliced

Directions

1. Heat oven to 400°. Place cornbread cubes onto a baking sheet with sides. In a small bowl, whisk oil with cumin and chile powder. Drizzle over cornbread and mix gently, but well, with your hands. Bake until golden brown and a bit crisp, 12 to 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, add garlic to the bowl of a food processor, and process until finely chopped, about 8 seconds. Add mayonnaise, cilantro, chives, 3 tablespoons of the lime juice, the oil, honey, jalapeño, lime zest, 1⁄4 teaspoon of the salt, and the 5 grinds of pepper. Process until smooth, about 20 seconds (you should have about 3⁄4 cup).

3. In a medium bowl, toss together lettuce with 1⁄4 teaspoon of the salt. Transfer to center of a large white platter (make a pile). Arrange cheese cubes in a clump next to lettuce. In same bowl, toss together corn with 1⁄8 teaspoon salt; transfer to platter in another pile. In same bowl, toss together jìcama with 1⁄4 teaspoon salt and 11⁄2 teaspoons lime juice; transfer to platter in another pile. In same bowl, toss together tomatoes with 1⁄4 teaspoon salt; transfer to platter in another clump. In same bowl, toss together radishes with 1⁄8 teaspoon salt and transfer to platter in another pile.

4. Arrange avocado slices on platter in another pile. Drizzle remaining tablespoon of lime juice all over avocado slices, and sprinkle them evenly with 1⁄4 teaspoon salt. (See photo for help arranging the ingredients. You don’t want any piles that are the same color next to each other.)

5. Serve at the table, with dressing alongside. Everyone should drizzle 2 to 3 tablespoons of dressing over their portion.

 

Try This: Make this salad vegan by preparing vegan cornbread and using vegan mayonnaise, agave nectar instead of honey, and vegan cheese.

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