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El Torito Restaurant's Caesar salad has been a popular favorite for decades; I obtained the recipe in 1994 when it was published in the Los Angeles Times and have made it many times since. The recipe contains some Mexican ingredients such as pepitas, which are roasted pumpkin seeds, avilable at Trader Joes, as well as at Mexican markets. The cotija cheese ia a Mexican grating cheese. If not available use any hard grating cheese such as Parmesan.
- 2 corn tortillas
- oil, for frying
- 1 head romaine lettuce, a large head, rinsed and spun dry
- 1⁄2 cup Cotija cheese, grated
- 1 red bell pepper, roasted, peeled and cut into julienne strips
- 1⁄2 cup pumpkin seeds, roasted (pepitas)
- 1 medium anaheim chili, roasted, peeled and seeded
- 3 tablespoons roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
- 1 garlic clove, large
- 1⁄8 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 3⁄4 cup oil
- 2 tablespoons vinegar, red wine
- 3 tablespoons Cotija cheese, grated
- 1 bunch cilantro, stemmed
- 3⁄4 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons water
- Cut tortillas into matchstick-size strips; then heat oil for deep-frying . Add tortilla strips and cook for a few seconds until crisp; remove with a slotted spoon, drain and set aside.
- Tear romaine lettuce into bite size pieces and place greens on six salad plates.
- Ladle Cilantro-Pesto dressing on each salad and sprinkle each dish with cotija cheese and tortilla strips.
- Arrange four red pepper strips like spokes on top of each salad and garnish with pepitas.
- For the Dressing.
- Place chile, pepitas, garlic, pepper, salt, oil, vinegar and cotija cheese in a blender or food processor; and blend for about 10 seconds, then add cilantro, bit by bit, until smoothly blended.
- Place mayonnaise and water in large stainless-steel bowl and whisk until smooth.
- Add blended chile mixture and mix thoroughly.
- If the dressing is made ahead, place in an airtight container and refrigerate. May be stored up to three days.