Nov 6, 2009

Terry Conlan's Pineapple & Avocado Salad

Here is the first recipe I promised you from the previous post on Terry Conlan's Mas Masa with Mushrooms cooking class. It's called Ensalada del Calle. It's a bright salad bursting with flavor from fresh pineapple, orange juice, the crunch of shredded carrots and pepitas (pumpkin seeds), a kick from a little chili pepper and garlic, and buttery richness from avocado. It's healthy and decadent tasting at the same time.

(Note: excuse the photo quality, I was shooting in the class on the fly with my iPhone.)

This makes a great salad with a Mexican meal and would be especially festive and fancy enough for the holidays or a special occasion.

In the class, Terry made his own quick pineapple vinegar. Don't skip this step. It brings out huge flavor and is very easy. Be sure to use an organic pineapple though, you don't want pesticide vinegar in your dressing! This recipe will make more vinegar than you need, but since you already have the pineapple, there's no way around it and vinegar is cheap. Besides, this is a treat to have in the fridge for next time. It would be great drizzled over other pineapple salads or Asian salads or grilled pineapple or fish or over grilled pork in a taco, now I'm thinking al pastor...) Note, this same technique will work with other fruits so try making whatever fruit vinegar you like.

Ensalada Del Calle

1 ripe organic pineapple
2 cups white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons toasted and salted pepitas
1/2 cup onion, sliced
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons fruity, extra virgin olive oil
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 seeded and minced Serrano pepper
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup carrot, peeled and shredded
2 ripe avocados
one head of butter lettuce

Take the onion slices and place them in a bowl in cold water and soak for 30 minutes to remove the harsh sulfuriness. Drain and set aside.

Peel and core the pineapple, reserving the trimmings. Cut half of the pineapple fruit into bite-sized chunks. Other half of fruit can be eaten later (chef treat).

Put the pineapple core and skin in a nonreactive (stainless steel) saucepan with the vinegar. Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat and let steep for 15 minutes. Strain. Measure out 2 tablespoons. Pour the remaining pineapple vinegar into a jar and refrigerate for future use. (This will keep for a long time.)

Combine the 2 tablespoons of pineapple vinegar, orange juice, olive oil, garlic and salt. Toss in the pineapple, onion, serrano, and cilantro. Toss to combine.

Peel and deseed the avocados. Cut into large chunks.

To serve, place a butter lettuce leaf on each plate. Top with pineapple mixture, then avocado chunks and sprinkle with pepitas.

Serves 6.

Adapted from Terry Conlan.

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