Mexican Caesar Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing is crisp romaine with pepitas, tortilla strips and cotija cheese and a fresh, light avocado dressing. It’s a delicious south-of-the-border take on Caesar salad!
When I was younger I used to go to El Torito Mexican restaurant with my roommate at least once a week. We’d order the big ole chicken enchilada combo meal that came with the sweet corn cake and Mexican caesar salad. The corn cake and salad were the big draw for us and we could never get enough. I recreated the Mexican Sweet Corn Cake here years ago, so now it’s high time I made a homemade version of the salad with this Mexican Caesar Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing.
The original salad was much like this one with crisp romaine lettuce, pepitas, and tortilla strips, but the similarities stop there. I added some cilantro leaves and cotija cheese to mine, and did a complete re-do of the dressing. The restaurant version had a dressing that I loved, but I almost fell over when I found out how unhealthy it was! I could get away with eating like that back in my 20’s, but that was a long time ago folks. As I get older I have to workout harder and eat less to keep my weight down, and I’m not eating salad dressing that’s got enough fat in it for an entire day. And I don’t even like mayo, so there’s that.
I knew I could easily lighten up that dressing without sacrificing flavor. I had avocado cream on my mind when I made the dressing, so I grabbed an avocado, some Greek yogurt, pepitas, cilantro, and lime, and went to town. 🙂
Looks good, doesn’t it? It’s so creamy and fresh with the cilantro, and plenty of lime to give it that pop of flavor that it needed. I used roasted, salted pepitas, and they added a nice roasted, nutty flavor that gave this dressing some depth.
The dressing was pretty thick, so I thinned it out with some water. You can add more or less water depending on how you’d like the consistency to be, and you can even make it in advance. 🙂
The fun part here was making my own tortilla strips! It may sound like a pain, but it was really easy and took all of 10-15 minutes. Homemade tortilla strips are about one of the best things ever…right next to homemade croutons. 🙂
I used a pizza cutter to cut 1/4″ strips out of my small corn tortillas and cut those in 1/3’s. I fried them in a saute pan filled with about 1/3 cup or so of canola oil for about 1 minute per batch. You definitely want to fry them in batches because if you overcrowd the pan they won’t get crispy. They fry up so fast it really doesn’t matter! Blot them on a paper towel lined plate and sprinkle with salt.
And try really hard not to eat them all. 🙂
This Mexican Caesar Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing is perfect as a side dish for your Mexican fiestas or serve with grilled chicken and make it a meal. It’s fresh, light, and full of flavor, with none of that guilt that comes along with heavy caesar dressings.
The days of putting down a chicken enchilada combo meal for me may be gone, but when lighter Mexican fare is this good, I couldn’t care less. 🙂
- 1 avocado, seeded and cut into chunks
- ⅓ cup plain Greek yogurt (I used 2%)
- ¼ cup roughly chopped cilantro
- Juice of 2 limes
- 2 tablespoons roasted salted pepitas*
- 2 tablespoons water
- 3 small corn tortillas, cut into ¼" thick strips with a pizza cutter and cut into ⅓'s
- ⅓-1/2 cup canola oil
- sea salt
- 4 ounces romaine leaves, chopped
- ½ cup cotija cheese (or substitute with your favorite cheese)
- ½ cup cilantro leaves
- ⅓ cup roasted salted pepitas
- Place the avocado, Greek yogurt, cilantro, lime juice, pepitas, and water in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste, and more water if you like a thinner consistency, and process once more. Set aside.
- Heat the canola oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat and line a large plate with paper towels. Add the tortilla strips in batches, being careful not to overcrowd the pan, and fry until golden and crisp. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and blot on the paper towels and sprinkle with sea salt. Repeat until the remaining tortilla strips are done.
- Place the romaine, cheese, cilantro leaves, and pepitas in a large bowl and toss to combine. Toss with the desired amount of dressing until the salad is coated, and top with the tortilla strips. Serve immediately and enjoy!
The dressing may be made in advance and will keep up to 2 days in an airtight container in the fridge.
Recipe by Flavor the Moments.