For Marcela Valladolid, salads are not starters. They are big and beefy and substantial.
"Honestly, I'm not a big fan of having a salad before a meal. Usually when I have a salad it's pretty hearty, balanced and healthy and a full meal," the Food Network star said via e-mail. "I love warm salads with bacon and spinach. I love the varieties of the nicoise that show up on so many menus. I love steak salads for their lusciousness and how the meat juices seep into the dressing."
Growing up, Valladolid didn't get many chances to eat beyond her Mexican roots. And that made her first experience with an Asian-inspired salad memorable.
"I remember the first time I tried an Oriental chicken salad, probably 20 years ago, and could not believe my mouth. I grew up in Tijuana so we weren't much exposed to international cuisine," she said. "I was very familiar with Chinese cuisine, but not this light, California-Asian dish. The Oriental dressing, moist chicken, shredded cabbage, thinly sliced and crisp carrots and crunchy wonton strips seemed like the most delicious combo on the planet. Now they serve them everywhere and it's still one of my favorites."
For the AP's 20 Salads of Summer series, Valladolid offered a potato salad studded with grilled corn and poblano peppers.
"We're not big salad people in Mexico and I'm always looking for ways to incorporate the ingredients that I grew up with into recipes that people on this side of the border can identify with. The combination of charred poblanos and corn is a classic one in Mexico and once added to a rich, creamy dressing and soft potatoes it makes for the perfect summer side," she said.
GRILLED CORN AND POBLANO POTATO SALAD
Marcela Valladolid suggests serving this salad with grilled flank steak and cold beer or lemonade. If you can't grill outdoors, she says a grill pan works just fine for the corn. The potato salad can be made a day ahead and refrigerated. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.
Start to finish: 45 minutes
2 pounds medium red-skinned potatoes
3 ears corn, husks removed
2 poblano chilies, charred, peeled, stemmed, seeded and chopped
1 cup chopped scallions (white and pale green parts only)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and ground black pepper
Put the potatoes in a large pot and cover with salted water. Bring to a boil and cook for 30 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a knife. Drain the potatoes and cool slightly.
Meanwhile, heat a grill to medium-high. Add the corn and grill, turning to grill all sides, for 10 minutes, or until evenly browned.
Halve the potatoes and put them in a large bowl. Using a sharp knife, carefully cut the corn kernels off the cobs and add to the bowl. Mix in the poblano chilies, scallions, sour cream, mayonnaise and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper.
Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 240 calories; 80 calories from fat (30 percent of total calories); 9 g fat (3 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 15 mg cholesterol; 39 g carbohydrate; 6 g protein; 4 g fiber; 250 mg sodium.
(Recipe from Marcela Valladolid's "Fresh Mexico," Clarkson Potter, 2009)