Caesar Salad with Cilantro Cream Dressing

This version of Caesar salad has some, but not all of the famous Tijuana original’s ingredients. Missing are bountiful amounts of olive oil, anchovies and croutons. You can make part of this salad ahead whenever you’re using the grill.


Yield: 6 servings



1 teaspoon vegetable oil

4 (6-inch) corn tortillas



Croutons (above)

½ cup pepitas

Cilantro Cream Dressing (see preparation below)

2 small or 1 large head Romaine lettuce, rinsed and spun or blotted dry

2 green chiles, parched, peeled and cut into strips (can substitute canned whole green chiles)

½ cup grated dry white Mexican cheese, feta cheese or Parmesan cheese


Cilantro Cream Dressing:

1 green chile, parached, peeled and coarsely chopped

3 large cloves garlic, roasted or raw

1 teaspoon ground pure mild New Mexican chile

1/3 cup good quality olive oil, preferably Spanish

3 Tablespoons white wine vinegar

½ cup cilantro leaves

½ cup fat-free sour cream

½ cup plain yogurt

2 teaspoons Caribe chile as a garnish


Preheat grill to high or 400F (205C) if not already hot. Meanwhile, lightly oil tortillas on both sides, then slice into ¼ inch wide strips. Place strips on a small baking sheet. Place pepitas in a shallow pie plate or skillet without a wood handle. Place baking sheet and skillet on grill rack. Cook tortillas until crisp and lightly toasted, stirring to keep them from sticking together. Toast pepitas 5 to 8 minutes or until they are darkened a bit in color and flavor is heightened. (These ingredients can be prepared up to 5 days ahead of time and can be done in an oven at the same temperature. Store tortilla strips and pepitas in separate airtight containers.) Divide toasted pepitas, using ¼ cup in salad dressing. Prepare dressing(instructions below). Rinse lettuce and cut into 6 lengthwise wedges and then each in half again, cutting through the core and leaving the core in.


To assemble the salad, top each lettuce serving with dressing. Crisscross 2 chile strips on top of each serving. Top with equal amounts of tortilla strips, remaining 1/4 cup toasted pepitas and cheese. Sprinkle with caribe chile as a garnish.


Cilantro Cream Dressing Preparation:

Combine green chile, garlic, ground chile, oil and vinegar in a blender jar and process until smooth. Then slowly add cilantro and blend only enough to distribute leaves, not to liquefy them. Pour into a bowl and stir in sour cream and yogurt. Use immediately or cover and refrigerate up to 2 days.

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