From the Mexican mind-set, both buttery avocado and tropical mango derive beautiful benefit from chili, salt and lime. All three form a foundation for this avocado-mango salad’s dressing, along with sautéed garlic’s savory aroma and honey’s mellowness. Add the crunch of toasted pumpkin seeds, the tenderness of Boston lettuce and the savory saltiness of crisp bacon and fresh Mexican cheese, and you have a compelling salad.
It’s the least substantial of my main course salads — perfect for hot-weather appetites. Also, feel free to scale down the size of the portions so you can use this delicia as the first course for a special dinner. Or serve the large portions with grilled chicken breasts for a more substantial meal.
- 1/2 cup hulled, untoasted pumpkin seeds
- 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
- 1/3 cup vegetable or olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- Fresh hot green chili to taste (I like 1 large serrano or small jalapeño), stemmed (optional)
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 4 slices bacon
- 1 large head Boston/butterhead lettuce (or an equivalent amount of Bibb lettuce), leaves separated
- 2 large ripe avocados
- 2 ripe mangoes
- A generous 3/4 cup coarsely crumbled Mexican queso fresco or mild blue cheese (Gorgonzola is great)
How to make it
A Few Simple Riffs
- For an over-the-top Crab-Avocado-Mango Salad, sprinkle a generous portion of crab over the avocado and mango before drizzling with dressing.
- Bacon can be replaced with flaked hot-smoked salmon, eel, trout or other fish. Leave out the bacon to make the salad vegetarian, or replace it with pan-grilled onion slices.
- The pumpkin seeds can be replaced with pine nuts (they toast — and burn — much faster than the pumpkin seeds).
- The luscious texture of mango works well with avocado, but so would ripe peach or nectarine.
- The green chili could be replaced by hot ground red chili (like arbol) — sprinkle it over the salad rather than blending it with the dressing.
- Crumbled goat cheese is a good stand-in for Mexican queso fresco.