Mango Salad with Spicy Lime Pepita Dressing

This is my favorite Spring salad, and cements my undying love for the culinary genius that is Rick Bayless. His cookbook Mexican Everyday, is definitely one of the few cookbooks I own that I’ve cooked multiple recipes out of. Living in Chicago, we’ve been lucky enough to eat in his restaurants, but I prefer the simpler everyday recipes in this book to eating out. That braised pork shoulder I made a couple of months ago was Rick’s recipe and definitely a winner.

When you finish this salad, you just might want to lick the plate, to get every last drop of the spicy, tangy dressing. The salad is topped with chunks of ripe mango, crumbled bleu cheese, toasted pepitas, and either avocado or whatever leftover grilled or roasted meat you have on hand. In this case, we had some leftover chili-garlic paste rubbed skirt steak from the night before, so we topped the salad with that.

The dressing takes a little more work than your average vinaigrette, but is totally worth it. The dressing makes about a cup, which is good for about 6 entree salads.

Pepita Lime Salad Dressing
Makes 1 cup of dressing

1/3 cup fresh squeezed lime juice (from about 4-5 limes)
1/3 cup olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
spoonful of chipotle puree, to taste
squeeze of honey, to taste
1/3 cup raw pepitas, toasted (some will be reserved to top the salad)

  1. In a small pan, gently roast 4 cloves of garlic in the olive oil over very low heat. Cook until the cloves of garlic begin to soften, and get just a touch of golden color. Turn off the burner and set the oil aside.
  2. While the garlic oil is cooking, toast the pepitas in another small pan, over medium heat. Shake the pan often so that they don’t burn. You’ll know they’re done when you start to hear the seeds start popping as they heat up – this takes about 5-10 minutes, depending on the size and freshness of the seeds. Set the toasted seeds aside.
  3. Pour the fresh squeezed lime juice into a mini-food processor or blender, then pour in the garlic and oil. Puree until smooth. Add a small spoonful of chipotle puree and 2 T of the toasted pepitas, and puree until smooth. I like the dressing to be thicker than a regular vinaigrette, so if it’s still a bit thin, add another tablespoon of pepitas, and puree again. Next, add a squeeze of honey, and a half-teaspoon of salt – puree, taste, and adjust seasoning to your liking by adding more honey or salt.

To make the salad: toss the dressing with lots of greens (romaine, spinach, butter lettuce are good here), then top with cubes of ripe mango, some of the reserved pepitas, and some crumbled bleu cheese. The addition of meat is optional. Avocado is also a perfect topping, but Mark won’t eat it, so I usually go without.

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