A Recipe From the Chef: Mary Sue Milliken's Mexican Chopped Salad

Mexican chopped salad at Border Grill
Mexican chopped salad at Border Grill
Peter Barrett

In our recent interview with Mary Sue Milliken, the Border Grill chef talked about all kinds of fun things, like stalking lamb in Mongolia and having a Hitchcock experience with raising pigeons in her back yard. She also discussed the Border Grill program, "Good for the Planet, Good for You," which features dishes made with at least 80% plant-based ingredients. (Yes, don't worry, the rest of it can be lamb or lengua or squab.) No, she's not saving all her pigeons for herself; Milliken and her longtime business partner Susan Feniger are focusing on the fact that 18% of greenhouse gases come from livestock production--more than from the transportation sector--and Americans eat about twice as much protein as recommended by the USDA. Of course we do. But that doesn't mean we necessarily should.

In this vein, the second recipe that Milliken sent us is her Mexican chopped salad, which uses only a fraction of the meat you might otherwise feel compelled to use in a main dish. Consider it a teachable moment on a plate. Turn the page for the recipe.

Mexican Chopped Salad

From: From: Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, chef-owners of Border Grill.

Note: Fresh chiles can be roasted over a gas flame or under the broiler. Keep turning so skin is evenly charred, without burning the flesh. Transfer charred chiles to a closed plastic bag and steam 10 to 15 minutes. Pull off charred skin by hand and dip briefly in water to remove blackened bits. Once peeled, cut away stems, seeds, and veins.

Serves: 4

Cumin vinaigrette:

2 tablespoons cumin seeds

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon honey, warm

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, to taste

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Salad:

1 head romaine lettuce, cut into 1/2-inch strips

1 1/2 cups diced leftover grilled chicken or turkey (optional)

1 1/2 cups canned garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed, or cooked, fresh green garbanzo beans

1 large or 2 medium apples, peeled and diced (Granny Smith, Pink Lady, or Honeycrisp)

1 scant cup grilled corn kernels (cut from 1 ear of grilled corn)

1 poblano chile, roasted, peeled, seeded, and diced*

1 California avocado, halved, seeded, peeled, and diced

1 small red onion, diced (optional)

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

1 cup crushed corn tortilla chips

1. For the cumin vinaigrette, toast the cumin seeds in a small, dry frying pan over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes, shaking frequently. Transfer to a blender along with other vinaigrette ingredients and puree until smooth.

2. For the salad, in a large bowl, combine all salad ingredients. Add the cumin vinaigrette to taste. Toss until well-coated and serve immediately.

Copyright © 2010, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, www.bordergrill.com


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