Can't escape for a winter getaway in Santa Fe? Yeah, me neither.
Make this salad for dinner and you will feel like you are there. It's easy, it's kid-friendly, and it is very fresh — which helps lift one's spirits in the dead of winter. Besides that, it's delicious! Who doesn't like steak and buttermilk ranch dressing?
I adapted this recipe from one I found in The Food Network Kitchens Cookbook.
For mayonnaise, either make your own (see my recipe) or you can buy it from Wilderness Family Naturals. I love their mayonnaise, and more importantly, so does my husband (he's picky about his mayo). I don't have to tell you guys this — you know better — but please do not use store bought mayo. It's full of nasty stuff like soybean oil.
If you can't find fresh cilantro, feel free to skip it. You can often find it at Asian markets. Tomatoes are also optional, since I know many people can't find them in wintertime. I can usually find fresh, organic cherry tomatoes. If you use cherry tomatoes, cut them in half. You could also substitute hearts of palm, artichoke hearts or sun-dried tomatoes, all available in cans or glass jars.
If avocado is unavailable in your area, you could substitute some wild shrimp, scallops or mushrooms sauteed in butter. Cotija cheese can be found at Mexican-American markets, but feel free to use feta cheese instead.
Jicima can also be found at Hispanic grocery stores. You can substitute celery for Jicima if you must. Cooked black beans or corn would also be a delicious substitution. Bottom line, this salad is flexible — be creative!
Lastly, you can serve this salad with warm sprouted or soaked corn or flour tortillas if you like, but they are not necessary — it's great without them.
Southwestern Cobb Salad
Things to do ahead
1. Make the buttermilk or kefir at least 24-48 hours ahead
2. Make the salad dressing up to a few weeks ahead — it will keep in the fridge
Buttermilk or kefir, homemade (1/3 cup) — where to buy buttermilk starters or kefir grains
Garlic cloves (2)
Mayonnaise, homemade (see my recipe) or from Wilderness Family Naturals (1/2 cup) — where to buy Wilderness Family Naturals mayonnaise
Orange, organic if possible (1)
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper — where to buy sea salt and black pepper
Tri-tip or sirloin steak, grass-fed (1.5-2 lbs) — where to buy meats
Olive oil, good quality (2 TBS) — where to buy olive oil
Butter, grass-fed (2-3 TBS) — where to buy grass-fed butter
Lettuce (1 head)
Jicama, small (1)
Cotija or feta cheese (8 oz)
Optional: Tomatoes, organic if possible (3)
Optional: Cilantro, fresh, organic if possible (1 bunch)
Make buttermilk or kefir at least 24 hours ahead. (You can also use fresh buttermilk or kefir from your farmer if it is available. Do not buy buttermilk at the store — it's typically full of additives and non-fat dry milk which is oxidized cholesterol — avoid!) To make buttermilk, just add 1/4 cup buttermilk to 1 quart (4 cups) fresh raw milk and let sit out on the counter, covered, for 24 hours. It's so easy! The recipe for kefir is on my blog.
1. Peel and smash the garlic cloves and sprinkle with a few pinches of sea salt. Add to a medium mixing bowl and set aside.
2. Rinse and very thinly slice the scallion (both the white and green parts). Add to the bowl.
3. Rinse and zest the orange. (Reserve the skinned orange; we'll be using it later.) Add to the bowl.
4. If using cilantro, rinse and mince 3 tablespoons worth. Add to the bowl.
5. Add the mayonnaise, buttermilk or kefir and a tiny pinch of chile powder to the bowl and whisk it all together until blended. If you like spicy, whisk in more chile powder to taste. (If you are spice-averse, leave out the chile powder.) Dressing will keep in fridge for a few weeks.
1. Put 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 TBS of chile powder in a small bowl and stir together until blended (you can also just toss them in a large freezer bag).
2. Rub the spiced oil on both sides of the steak (or throw the steak into the freezer bag, seal, and mush/shake until coated).
3. Add the butter to a cast iron or stainless steel skillet and set on medium-high heat.
4. When the butter is melted and sizzling (but not smoking), toss the steak on. Let cook 3-5 minutes on each side, or until medium-rare. (Use a knife to cut it open to check for doneness. It should be seared on the outside and pink on the inside.)
5. When the steak is done, remove it from heat and let it rest on a cutting board for 5 minutes (this will allow the juices to distribute throughout).
6. After the steak has rested, cut into thin strips or cubes. Set aside.
1. Rinse the lettuce and spin or pat try with paper towels or dish cloth. Add to large salad bowl.
2. Chop the avocado into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
3. Cut up the reserved orange into segments. Set aside.
4. Peel and chop the jicima into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
5. Rinse and chop up the tomatoes into bite- sized pieces. Set aside.
6. Arrange the various ingredients (steak, avocado, orange, jicima, tomatoes and cheese) into stripes or bands. You could just throw them on there but this creates a colorful display.
7. Set the salad dressing out and let everyone assemble their own salad. If you wish, serve with brown rice and beans, and/or warm tortillas with butter.
Photo Credit: thefoodplace.co.uk, on Flickr