Photo by my son, Zachary Popovsky
Mexican-Style Summer Olive Salad
by Victoria Challancin
I seem to store up recipes that I eventually want to write about. Sometimes for years. This Mexican Olive Salad is a perfect example. I actually tested it for Marcela Valladolid for her Food Network's Mexican Made Easy when I worked on pre-production for the show. I tucked the recipe away and remembered it today while scrolling through photos, this one taken by my son.
This easy recipe is a perfect example of Mexican-Mediterranean fusion food, which is so popular in Baja, Mexico. You could riff on this endlessly. Add some boiled egg, cucumber, or cubed avocado. What about tuna? Or serve it as is over grilled fish or chicken. Jícama would work here as well, as would cooked cubes of potato. Serve it on endive leaves or with homemade tortilla chips. Or perhaps make a "taco" out of jícama sliced thin on a mandoline and use that as a base, a practice that is becoming popular here in San Miguel in upscale restaurants.
Light, fresh, easy to put together, this is summer in a bowl. (Can you tell our weather is heating up?).
Recipe: Mexican-Style Summer Olive Salad
(Recipe by Marcela Valladolid of Food Network)
Cook's Notes: This version has an additional 3/4 cup of red cherry tomatoes. You can either tear the dried red chile into small pieces or use scissors to cut it into thin rings. Other hot dried chiles could be substituted. To read about Mexican cheese such as cotija, check out this post I wrote on Mexican Cheeses.
2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
2 teawspoons whole coriander seeds
1 chile de árbol with seeds, torn into very small pieces or 1/2 teaspoon chile flakes
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup pitted and halved Kalamata olives
3/4 cup pitted and halved green olives
3/4 cup assorted colored cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
3/4 cup red cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
8 ounces Mexican cotija or feta cheese, cubed
In a small, dry skillet, toast cumin seeds, coriander seeds, chile, and pine nuts over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl and whisk in olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, keeping in mind that the olives are salty.
Add tomatoes, olives, cilantro, and cheese. Toss gently to combine.
©Victoria Challancin. Please ask for permission before using photos. Thanks!