This recreation of the Mexican Caesar Salad at El Torito Restaurant has crispy romaine lettuce tossed with a tangy cilantro-pepita dressing, for a bright and refreshing salad with lots of texture and flavor.
Did you know that the original Caesar salad has its origins in Mexico? Developed by Caesar Cardini, in Tijuana Mexico, it was a desperation salad that came together during a rush in his restaurant, from whatever ingredients he could pull together.
My Mexican Caesar Salad with Cilantro-Pepita Dressing pays homage to these roots with the same bright and refreshing elements of a classic Caesar salad with a Mexican twist!
How do I make this Caesar Salad?
- Roast the jalapeño (or Serranos if you can’t find a jalapeño). If you don’t want any spice in your dressing, and I respect that choice, just skip this part. You can either pan roast the pepper in a very hot pan until browned on all sides, or you can put it under a broiler, turning often, until nicely browned. Remove the stem and some or all of the seeds inside, depending again on how much spice you want.
- Toast the pepitas The pepitas will also be toasted in a dry pan on the stove over medium heat. Shake them and stir them around and they’ll start to make popping and hissing sounds and quickly start browning. Watch them carefully so they don’t burn. When done I take them immediately out of the pan and onto a plate so they can cool before adding to the other ingredients.
- Make your dressing Place all of the dressing ingredients into the bowl of your food processor. Give it a good buzz, until everything is fully combined. For an even creamier, more rich dressing, you can add in half a mashed avocado at this point and blend it in as well. This is my favorite way to go! Delicious!!
- Toss I like to toss the dressing on a combination of romaine and kale, with crumbled cotija cheese and more pepitas on top.
- Add protein I occasionally like to add a chicken breast, sprinkled with adobo seasoning and grilled, for each serving. I let them cool and slice the chicken into strips and serve it alongside, or on top of, the salads.
Looking for more refreshing salads?
- Greek Salad with Herb Marinated Feta
- BLT Panzanella Salad
- Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
- Easy Creamy Caesar Dressing
Mexican Caesar Salad (with Cilantro - Pepita Dressing)
- ¼ cup olive oil or other neutral vegetable oil
- 1 roasted jalapeño (or 2 roasted serrano peppers)
- 2 cloves garlic
- ¼ cup grated cotija cheese (plus extra for garnish)
- Juice of one lime
- 3 tablespoon toasted pepitas (plus extra for garnish)
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¾ cup mayonnaise
- ¼ cup milk
- 1 small bunch of cilantro (mostly the leaves), or about ¾ cup.
- 2 heads romaine lettuce chopped in strips
- 1 bunch kale stems, stripped and leaves chopped in strips
- 1 avocado mashed (optional)
- Roast the jalapeno pepper in a very hot pan until browned on all sides. You can also put it under a broiler, turning often, until nicely browned. Remove the stem and some or all of the seeds inside, depending on how much spice you want.
- Toast pepitas in a dry pan on the stove over medium heat. Shake them and stir them around until they start browning. Watch them carefully so they don’t burn. When done, remove them from the pan and onto a plate so they can cool before adding to the other ingredients.
- Place olive oil, jalapeno, garlic, cotija, lime juice, pepitas, salt, and pepper into the bowl of your food processor, and pulse until everything is combined.
- Add mayonnaise and milk and mix thoroughly.
- Add cilantro and run processor until dressing is smooth. If you want it thinner, add a little more milk.
- Toss chilled romaine with dressing and garnish with tortilla strips, more cotija cheese, and pepitas.
The nutritional and caloric information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It does not assert or suggest that readers should or should not count calories, and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s or doctor’s counseling.