Thursday, May 24, 2012

Fajitas Salad with Chipotle Dressing

Just as a painter needs to spend time in nature for inspiration, so must the Frugal Girlmet eat at a restaurant every once in a while, to taste new foods and get new ideas.  Sunday we took the family to Disney's California Adventure and had lunch at Cocina Cucamonga.  I ordered the Fajitas Ensalada.  I wasn't expecting much:  I mean, amusement park food doesn't have the greatest reputation.  But I was very pleasantly surprised!  

The salad was romaine and baby lettuces, topped with grilled chicken, and grilled onions, peppers, and zucchini.  But the best part by far was the chipotle dressing:  creamy, smoky, spicy and piquant.  I ate every last bite, and immediately began plotting how to make it at home.

It was so easy!  Buy a can of chipotles in adobo sauce (they're $1.69, so no big investment required!) and whole cumin seeds, and make this tonight!  (Note:  the veggies and chicken would be even tastier grilled, as they were in the original, but even with sautéed veggies and leftover chicken, this salad was amazing!)  Vegetarian?  Omit the chicken!  This sauce is so awesome, it would be great over grilled veggies - something to keep in mind for your BBQ plans this weekend...

Fajitas Ensalada (a la Frugal Girlmet)

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 large chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
  • 1 large (or two small) cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro (use the upper stems too!)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 red or yellow bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 zucchini, sliced into pieces the same size as the bell peppers
  • 1 cup cooked chicken, shredded
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • Salad greens - spring mix, romaine, whatever you like
  1. Toast the cumin seeds over medium heat for a few minutes until they get a little darker and start smelling delicious.  When toasted, grind in food processor or pulverize in mortar and pestle.  (You could use pre-ground cumin, but please don't.  Seriously, that stuff has no odor or flavor.  Buy the whole seeds!)
  2. With cumin in the food processor, add chipotle and a little adobo sauce, garlic, cilantro, mayonnaise, yogurt, lemon juice, salt and sugar.  Buzz to combine.  Taste for seasoning - too spicy?  Add more mayo.  Too tart?  Add a pinch more sugar.  Put the dressing in the refrigerator while you cook the veggies.
  3. Add a little oil or butter to a large pan.  Add the sliced onions and sauté until golden, then add the peppers and zucchini.  Cook until hot and tasty (not for too long, don't let them get mushy!)
  4. To serve:  Lettuce on the bottom, top with hot veggies and shredded chicken, and dress liberally with the chipotle dressing.  Scatter some avocado over the top and dig in!
(The salad was also served with some tortilla chips over the top.  It was nice and crunchy, but I didn't need the extra carbs.  If you want, go crazy with them, but we skipped them and didn't miss them.)

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