This Mexican Salad with Cilantro Jalapeño Pesto is healthy and you won’t believe the amazing flavor of the pesto!
Here we are, at my final post for the #ReclaimTheKitchen campaign, something that was much more fun to work on that I could have imagined. It really got me thinking about not only what I’m cooking, but why I take the time to cook it.
It was a treat for me to reflect on the memories and events that brought me to my cooking life today. I told you about my dad and how he was raised very poor in a small town in Northern Minnesota. I shared the special memories I have when my mom and I would share Oyster Stew, just the two of us. I still find it fascinating that in 1900 we ate 98% of our meals in our homes and today it’s less than 50%! Of course, we change with the times and cooking must change right along with it. Still, just as we lament over the loss of “real” human interaction due to iPhones and social media, I can’t help but think that we’ve also lost those precious few minutes we could be sharing at the family dinner table. The #ReclaimTheKitchen campaign was a great reminder to me to slow down and cherish dinner time instead of panic over it :)
I heard from quite a few of you who shared your own thoughts and memories on the topic. Amy from Very Culinary said, “I have super fond memories of helping my mom make egg rolls and pot stickers from scratch. It was like an assembly line and I would help her all day. Only me, not my sister.” And Des from Life’s Ambrosia shared this tip: “I love the idea of reclaiming the kitchen and I love this post. We always have dinner around the kitchen table. I think it is super important. And I too like to cook things that will work for multiple meals. My favorite thing is pulled pork. I take an inexpensive cut of meat and make 3 – 4 meals out of it. It makes it so we can enjoy home cooked meals at home and it’s a lot easier on me with two little ones running around.”
As you know, I’m a big fan of roasting two chickens or a big cut of meat and using it for several meals. I don’t personally use a slow cooker, but I’m a believer in them nonetheless. Throw a roast in on your way out the door with some potatoes and carrots – dinner is done! Then use what’s left for tacos, put it on pizza or mix it in with scrambled eggs and have Breakfast For Dinner! And we do eat out; we like to choose one night that’s our time to get out of the house and enjoy it. It’s usually on a weekend, but occasionally I’ll just surprise everyone for the fun of it. Making it a special thing works for us; that way we all look forward to it and we tend to talk and enjoy it more. Eating out is fun, I just know that for me personally, cooking brings a joy and togetherness that I can’t find in a restaurant. Nothing, absolutely nothing, is better than my girls wandering into the kitchen and asking “What is that?” and showing them a vegetable or ingredient they’ve never seen before. Or explaining to them why I cut an onion a certain way for soups and another way for enchiladas. Cooking is not only fun but it’s interesting and there’s a science behind it that is really fun to share!
I’m so glad I was able to share a few of these special memories with you and I was thrilled to hear some of your favorite memories and traditions, too! Please keep them coming as the Reclaim the Kitchen initiative is so important and something that, I strongly believe, we need to keep up. Let’s teach our kids the “how” of cooking and, more importantly, let’s show them the “why”. If it’s important to us now, it will be important to them later. Happy Cooking!
Mexican Salad with Cilantro Jalapeño Pesto
- 5 garlic cloves
- 1 bunch cilantro about 4-5 cups, more or less to taste; use the stems, too!
- 5 jalapeños roasted (just pop under the broiler until they're blackened in spots; no need to peel after, just slice off the stem once roasted and you're good to go)
- 1 cup pine nuts
- juice of 1 lime
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
- 1/2 - 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 head romaine lettuce chopped
- 1 red bell pepper sliced or chopped
- 1 - 2 cucumbers sliced or chopped
- 2-3 ears fresh corn kernels removed (no need to cook)
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes sliced if preferred
- optional: black beans and avocado
Make the pesto:
- Place all ingredients in a high-powered blender (I adore my Vitamix) and blend until very smooth. Use immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve (the flavors will develop if you allow it time to sit awhile). NOTE: Pesto can be frozen! Double the recipe so you'll have some for another dinner - it goes really well with EVERYTHING - even on baked potatoes!)
Assemble the salad:
- Place salad ingredients in a large bowl. If no leftovers are anticipated, toss the pesto with the salad and serve. Alternatively, divide salad between bowls and add pesto as needed.