As readers of this blog can probably tell/are probably tired of hearing about, the concept of authenticity is one I often grapple with when it comes to food. The day after putting in my first CSA order the 99 cent Chef* posted a recipe for a Cuban salad. I admit I was really most inrigued by the inclusion of radishes, which I had ordered but frankly didn’t know what to do with.
I read the recipe, and thought to myself, “Huh, what makes this salad particularly Cuban? This seems pretty normal to me.” Then I began wondering, “How have American side salads been influenced by said Cuban salads?” It got to the point where I began wondering if all these years my American salads were really Cuban salads all along. [What is this turning into? A cooking show version of Inception?! Snap out of it, girl!**]
In poking around the internet I found a few more recipes — the receta de Ensalada Cubana via TasteofCuba.com [seems pretty authentic to me] and this delicious sounding Avocado and Onion Salad recipe via Food and Wine. Ultimately, I realized, my worries didn’t matter. It appears the Cubans love some good salads (with a simple vinaigrette, and often with red onion + avocado), these salads can take a lot of different forms, and hey, I’m down with that.
After picking up my first CSA box and eating my glorious hot dog from The Pig, I only wanted a light dinner to finish things off. A delicious bowl of Cuban salad and a handful of macadamia nuts later, and I was happy. 🙂
I tend to dress my salads with a 2:1 ratio of vinegar:oil, although the traditional ratio (I have heard) is 1:3. Being someone who often will just eat salads with plain vinegar, no oil, my ratio works well for me. This is because I don’t worry about emulsification — I just pour the dressing ingredients on the salad straight, “deconstructed,” if you will. Adjust as you see fit.
*the 99c chef is hilarious. He makes stuff with ingredients that all cost less than a buck a piece, culling them from (yep) the 99c store, local ethnic markets, etc. His zany style cracks me up, and his images of LA keep me in touch with the SoCal I miss daily.
**although if JG-L could come and help me out in the kitchen, I’d gladly debate salads with him all. Day. Long.
***have I become enough of an academic that I am now footnoting my food blog!? Golly gee. And yes, I realize this isn’t a “real” footnote. Work with me, people!
Serves 2 as a side, or 1 as a main
- One small head lettuce (I used red and green oak leaf lettuce)
- 1/4 red onion, shaved
- 1/2 cup tomatoes, diced
- 2 radishes, sliced thin
- 1 avocado, chopped
- Vinaigrette: 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- Salt and pepper
- Toss all ingredients together with the vinagrette and a pinch of salt. Add plenty of freshly ground black pepper, and enjoy.