Wednesday, May 18, 2011
I just got back from California, where I spent a glorious week with my family. While I did manage to work out every single day (yay me!) I was, unfortunately, a lot more lenient when it came to my diet.
I ate stuff like this:
And a few too many of these:
All I can say is that I'm SO GLAD I don't eat like this all the time.
Oh yeah, did I mention that at one point during my trip I was a few feet away from the delicious Mario Lopez? One word: Flawless.
Now that I'm home I can get back to my regular eating habits, which include this salad from Rick Bayless. After coming off of a week-long binge of nothing but fats and carbs, this salad felt like the perfect transitional meal. It feels indulgent because of the bacon and blue cheese, but well-rounded because you are including good unsaturated fats from the avocado and olive oil. The pumpkin seeds are rich in iron, and the mango is chock full vitamins A and C.
Honestly, I never expected to see mango and avocado on the same plate as blue cheese, but I say with confidence that it is a trio I would be happy to eat again and again. If you are wary, you can always use queso fresco, as Bayless suggests.
The dressing is really what makes this salad sing. We couldn't believe it when we tasted it. Lime juice, garlic, jalapeno, pumpkin seeds, honey, it's such an amazing combination of flavors. I'm salivating just thinking about it.
Avocado-Mango Salad with Blue Cheese, Bacon, and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
adapted from Rick Bayless - Mexican Everyday
serves 2 as a hearty main dish salad
Notes: I have adjusted this recipe to serve two (his recipe serves 4), but you will have extra dressing and pumpkin seeds - enough to go on a small salad the next day for lunch. Our favorite type of mango these days is the Ataulfo mango. It's yellow, very sweet, and they are sold in 6-packs at Costco! They are ripe and ready to eat when they get slightly squishy and shriveled.
4 slices bacon
1/2 cup hulled untoasted pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/3 cup vegetable or olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 large serrano or 1 small jalapeno, stemmed (and seeded, if you like)
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
6 cups lettuce (I used mixed baby greens, because that's what we had, Bayless used Boston/Butterhead lettuce leaves
1 large ripe avocado
2 small or 1 large ripe mango
1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese, Gorgonzola, or queso fresco
Lay the strips of bacon on a paper towel-lined plate and microwave on high, 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 minutes, or until crispy to your liking. Set aside to cool.
Put the pumpkin seeds into a small skillet and toast over medium heat, stirring constantly as they pop. Once they have all popped from flat to round and look a little toasty, pour them onto a plate. Put about 1/3 of the seeds to a blender or food processor and add the lime juice. Leave the rest to cool on the plate for topping the salad later.
Return the skillet to medium heat and add the oil. Add the garlic and jalapeno. Cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic had softened and is lightly browned. Slowly add the entire contents of the skillet to the blender or food processor with the pumpkin seeds and lime juice. Add the honey and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Process until smooth (Since I was using a small food processor, I pulsed a couple of times to break things up more carefully since it was so hot, then after that I was able to process constantly). Taste. Freak out because it's so fabulous. In the off-chance that you don't think it's seasoned enough, add a little more salt.
Divide the lettuce between your two plates. Pit the avocados, scoop out the flesh, then slice or dice. Peel the mangos, then cut the flesh from the pits, and slice or dice. Arrange the avocado and mango over the salads. Drizzle with dressing, then add the blue cheese and pumpkin seeds. Crumble or chop the bacon and sprinkle over the top. Serve immediately.
There are lots of ways to vary this salad. Use smoked salmon instead of bacon. Pine nuts instead of pumpkin seeds. Peaches or nectarines instead of mango. Goat cheese instead of queso fresco. You could also top with grilled chicken to increase the protein content.