Salad as main course takes just the right ingredients


Chef Jimmy Shaw says a salad can make a great meal on its own. His Loteria Grill restaurant uses some of the best produce of the season, including avocado.

"It's not only just as an ingredient, but also as a base for a dressing," Shaw described.

Shaw makes a smooth and creamy dressing with avocado as the fat base and thickener for the dressing in tandem with cilantro, serrano chili, garlic, lime, queso mexicano or yogurt. He even adds roasted pepitas or pumpkin seeds, which adds pop to a salad.

"Put them in a pan. Toss them as you're play with them, and when they start to toast, throw in a little lime and maybe some chile powder," said Shaw. He also adds a bit of sugar and salt.

He is also a fan of crisp and crunchy jicama, which he compares to tofu in Asian dishes, as it takes on the flavor of whatever it's paired with.

Since it's tomato season, make the most of your garden. Pair big and juicy heirlooms with dried poblano chili, Oaxaca string cheese, pomegranate seeds, hot chili oil with citrus vinegar drizzled on top.

This makes for a light meal with a variety of tastes and textures.

If the salad is built well, it can be the heart of your meal. You might also want to offer some small plates, like mini, perfectly portioned tacos, which can please everyone's palate.

You don't need to get burrito-or even taco-sized tortillas. Most markets now sell mini taco-sized tortillas, which is perfect for filling with leftovers.

"Shrimp that we did with a little bit of raw tomatillo sauce, some mushrooms that are cooked, and also some zucchini and roasted corn," Shaw suggested as fillings for the mini tortillas.

Top them with salsa, cheese , cilantro or avocado. It's a perfect way to accompany your salad.

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