When I was growing up, chef’s salads were all the rage. I remember trying to transport this idea to Spain; we, one of my roommates and I, were hosting a luncheon in her mom’s home in Tarragona. I don’t remember what else was on the menu, but I do vividly recall that the guests unabashedly balked at our chef’s salad, which we served topped with Russian dressing. (I don’t remember what surprised me more: the fact that they were so displeased with the salad, or the fact that they verbalized their feelings!) Though I had a bit of a setback then, combined with an epiphany regarding the fact that what I might like might not be what others enjoy, I also realized something: there are many ways to recreate a basic.
Fast forward to many moons later, and, well I guess I wasn’t too scarred after all. Here I am, making chef’s salads once again. Only, my friends, this chef’s salad is not the same as the ones I (or my mom!) used to make; this chef’s salad is a Latin-style version.
Now stay with me here!
Photo by my daughter, Sofia Markusfeld
Basically the thinking behind this chef’s salad came out of the fact that many of my relatives and friends are now gluten free, and therefore even my one-time bread loving comrades are not enjoying sandwiches like they used to. However, many of the carnivores among them still enjoy meat and cheese. So in this case, what I did was take the inside of my version of a Cuban sandwich (one of my favorites!) and put it on the outside, atop mixed greens. You’ll see in the picture that there’s a ramekin of grainy mustard. So, what’s in this particular version? This chef’s salad has a kind of ropa vieja (shredded meat) of pernil (slow-roasted pork shoulder), julienne-like slices of manchego cheese, some grape tomatoes, and assorted greens. In addition to the grainy mustard, oil and vinegar, or just a few squeezes of fresh lemon or lime, are options. Other chef’s salads I’m making include marinated and roasted portobello mushrooms with roasted red pepper and a cilantro vinaigrette….and there are others! More than a recipe, my friends, I’m again conveying one of my favorite ways of thinking: the sky’s the limit! Would love to hear about your chef’s salads. In the meantime, ¡Buen provecho! Enjoy!