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Topopo Salad

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1 head iceberg lettuce, shredded or cut into small pieces
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup rice vinegar or distilled white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar
16 0z. bottle Prepared salsa
8 ounces frozen peas, thawed
1 cup finely shredded, white Mexican cheese (Queso Blanco)
2 ripe tomatoes, diced
1 bunch green onions, finely chopped
1 -2 jalapenos, finely chopped (Note: how many jalapenos, and whether or not you seed them will determine how spicy your Topopo is. One seeded jalapeno will have a nice flavor with a bit of zing; 2 unseeded jalapenos will be noticeably hot. I like 1, unseeded).
Tortilla chips
2 cups shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
2 cups guacamole (purchased or homemade)
2 cups finely shredded, cooked chicken (I often leave this out and go “veggie)
2 cans refried beans

“Topopo” means volcano, and as prepared at El Azteco in Lansing, Michigan, this is a HUGE salad for two people. You may, of course, choose to spread the ingredients over several plates.

First, mix lettuce, peas, white cheese, chicken, jalapenos, green onions and tomatoes in a large bowl. In a jar ow bowl mix canola, rice vinegar and sugar to create a vinaigrette dressing. Add a small (!) amount of vinaigrette, no more than 1/4 cup to salad mixture. You are not really “dressing” this, just holding it together and adding a bit of flavor). Mix again to coat very lightly with vinaigrette. You may decide that you want to use more dressing next time, but you really don’t want it to be more than a hint of background flavor and a binder for the salad ingredients.

Warm refried beans in microwave or on top of the stove.

On the bottom of a large plate, place a hearty layer of tortilla chips. Warm refried beans and layer evenly over chips. Top with cheddar or jack cheese and run under the broiler to melt. Top melted cheese with guacamole spread evenly, and then a cup of the of salsa.

A true Topopo is presented with the salad on top of the nacho base in a pyramid. (You remember: the whole volcano thing). Begin piling your salad mixture on top of the nachos to cover completely, gradually adding less and less as you build upwards to form a pyramid. Serve with additional salsa on the side and a squeeze of lime if desired.

 

Recipe courtesy of the blog Forest Street Kitchen

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