For Marcela Valladolid, salads are not starters. They are big and beefy and substantial.
Honestly, Im not a big fan of having a salad before a meal. Usually when I have a salad, its pretty hearty, balanced and healthy and a full meal, the Food Network star said via e-mail. I love warm salads with bacon and spinach. I love the varieties of the nicoise that show up on so many menus. I love steak salads for their lusciousness and how the meat juices seep into the dressing.
Growing up, Valladolid didnt get many chances to eat beyond her Mexican roots. And that made her first experience with an Asian-inspired salad memorable.
I remember the first time I tried an Oriental chicken salad, probably 20 years ago, and could not believe my mouth. I grew up in Tijuana, so we werent much exposed to international cuisine, she said. I was very familiar with Chinese cuisine, but not this light, California-Asian dish. The Oriental dressing, moist chicken, shredded cabbage, thinly sliced and crisp carrots and crunchy wonton strips seemed like the most delicious combo on the planet. Now they serve them everywhere, and its still one of my favorites.
For the APs 20 Salads of Summer series, Valladolid offered a potato salad studded with grilled corn and poblano peppers.
Were not big salad people in Mexico, and Im always looking for ways to incorporate the ingredients that I grew up with into recipes that people on this side of the border can identify with. The combination of charred poblanos and corn is a classic one in Mexico, and once added to a rich, creamy dressing and soft potatoes, it makes for the perfect summer side, she said.