While salads are the cornerstone of a healthy diet, they present a challenge that I never experience with any of my other favorite foods. I call it “salad rut.” It’s what happens when you’ve identified a tasty and easy-to-construct combination of greens, toppings, and dressing, and then any time you don’t know what to make for dinner, you whip up the same old plate.
For me, my standby salad is sliced oranges and avocados on a bed of frisee, topped with white wine vinegar and olive oil. It’s delicious, but I’m tired of it.
The only solution: stepping up my game. If you need to add some new salads to your lineup, this one will definitely do the trick.
Rick Bayless, chef of Frontera Grill in Chicago, recently shared with us with a salad recipe that pairs sweet mango, creamy avocado, salty bacon (shocker: under 50 calories per slice), nutty toasted pumpkin seeds and creamy fresh cheese on a bed of Boston lettuce.
The salad is topped off with a tangy dressing that blows my standard oil and vinegar mix out of the water. In fact, in the few hours after I made this dish, I made regular visits to the refrigerator, spoon in hand, for more tastes of the leftover dressing. Gluttonous? Perhaps. But after you make this salad, you’ll see why I couldn’t resist.
Avocado-Mango Salad with Cheese, Bacon and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds Recipe by Rick Bayless, chef of Frontera Grill in Chicago
What you’ll need:
4 slices bacon ½ cup hulled, toasted pumpkin seeds* 1/3 cup fresh lime juice 1/3 cup vegetable or olive oil 2 garlic cloves, peeled 1 jalapeno, halved (optional) 1 Tbsp honey Salt, to taste 1 large head Boston lettuce, leaves separated 2 avocados, diced 2 mangoes, diced ¾ cup coarsely crumbled Mexican queso fresco, mild blue cheese, or goat cheese
How to make it:
- Arrange the bacon slices between a double layer of paper towels on a microwavable plate. Microwave on high until crispy, about 2 ½ to 3 ½ minutes.
- Add a third of the pumpkin seeds and all of the lime juice into a blender.
- Dump the oil into a small skillet and set over medium heat. Add the garlic and jalapeno (if using). Cook, stirring regularly, until the garlic is soft and lightly browned, about five minutes.
- Remove the jalapeno and pour the oil and garlic into the blender. Add the honey and ½ teaspoon salt. Process until smooth, then taste and add more salt if needed.
- Divide the lettuce between four plates. Arrange the avocado and mango in the center of the lettuce. Drizzle everything with the dressing, and then sprinkle with the cheese and toasted pumpkin seeds. Crumble the bacon and sprinkle it over the top. Serves 4.
*If you can’t find toasted pumpkin seeds at your local supermarket, buy them raw and toast them yourself. Here’s how: Set a nonstick sauté pan over medium-low heat and toast the seeds until they begin to release their aroma and look slightly browned on the outsides, about 10 to 15 minutes.