It's fitting to celebrate the arrival of spring, and the edible bounties that the earth will soon bear, with a Mexican-inspired salad. Most Americans aren't aware that Mexican and other immigrant agricultural workers cross the border and work in our fields to give us the most abundant food supply in the world — and if you peek into the kitchens of most restaurants, you will more than likely find our Latin American brothers and sisters hard at work. So I have created this simple salad in honor of all the laborers in our food system. (You should have no problem acquiring all the ingredients suggested below; many conventional grocery stores are starting to carry some Mexican specialty products.) While you're working on your salad, quench your thirst with this tasty drink.
Sparkling Spring Sangría
Although sangría is a traditional Spanish drink, it is widely enjoyed throughout Mexico.
1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 cups sparkling apple cider
2 24-oz. bottles good-quality red wine
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons agave nectar
4 apples, cored, peeled, cut in thin slices
• In a small bowl, combine cinnamon with 2 tablespoons water and mix well, until completely dissolved. Transfer mixture to 1-gallon jug and combine with sparkling apple cider, wine, lime juice, and agave nectar. Mix well. Add fruit, stir well again. Refrigerate until ready to serve in slender, ice-filled glasses.
For a non-alcoholic version, replace the red wine with grape juice.
Soundtrack: "Brown Paper People" by Lila Downs from One Blood — Una Sangre
Instead of hunting for sour oranges, also known as Seville oranges, which you can purchase at Latin American and Mediterranean grocery stores, you can combine orange and lime juices to create a sour blend. Feel free to add asparagus or other local spring vegetables.
1/3 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1 pound mixed baby greens
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons agave nectar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
white pepper, freshly milled
• In a small skillet over medium heat, toast pumpkin seeds 3–4 minutes, shaking pan to brown them evenly. Transfer to plate to cool.
• In a small bowl, whisk together orange juice, lime juice, mustard, garlic, agave nectar, and salt. Slowly whisk in olive oil. Season with white pepper to taste.
• Immediately before serving, combine the mesclun (mixed baby greens) and pepitas. Toss with just enough vinaigrette (about 2 tablespoons) to coat salad well. Cover. Reserve remainder of vinaigrette for later use.
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Bryant Terry is an award-winning eco-chef, food justice activist, author, and Food and Society Policy Fellow. He co-authored Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen and has a column ("Eco-Soul Kitchen") on TheRoot.com. He lives in Oakland, California. Find him online at www.bryant-terry.com.
Books mentioned in this post
Bryant Terry is the author of Vegan Soul Kitchen: Fresh, Healthy, and Creative African American Cuisine