Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Old Familiar - Tacubaya Salad with Lemon-Lime Vinaigrette

About once every year, I pull out my old, tattered copy of East of Eden, my favorite book of all time. I re-read and re-visit the paragraphs and characters I love so well. I never really plan on reading it again, but once the urge strikes, I have to indulge. And so far, every year, it happens like clockwork.

I like to re-read books. I do the same thing with The Great Gatsby, and a few others. It might sound cliched, but it seems every time I pick one of these books up again, I find something I missed the last time around. Something new. I think about a passage differently than I used to. And I never, ever tire of reading the last line of Gatsby, possibly the greatest ending to a book ever:

"Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter -- to-morrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther....And one fine morning --- So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."

That ending always thrills me.

I take no issue with the familiar, the well-trodden path. My friend Lesley tends to disagree with me on this. She thinks she'll miss out on something new if she sticks with what she's done before. Whether it's a book, an ice cream flavor...I see her point. But I still prefer chocolate ice cream nearly every time. I take comfort in the familiar, and in habit.

So it is with this salad. The Tacubaya Salad. Tacubaya is a Mexican restaurant on 4th Street in Berkeley. It's a favorite lunch spot of mine, not too far from where I worked when I first moved the the Bay Area. Once I discovered this salad on their menu, I committed. My order at Tacubaya is always, always: one chicken taco and the Primavera Salad. Which I have re-named, the Tacubaya Salad.

This salad is everything I want a salad to be. Bright, crunchy, filling, and tangy. There's a lot of texture going on here. Carrots, cucumber, radish, avocado, pumpkin seeds, baby lettuce and cabbage, all tossed in a lemon-lime vinaigrette. It's very possible that I could live off of this salad for quite some time, and be completely content.

I always feel a bit silly posting a salad recipe. I mean, it's a salad. You can probably see from the picture what the proportions are like, and to be honest, I don't measure for it. I throw it all together in the proportions I need. It's about an equal proportion of everything from the pumpkin seeds to the carrots to the cabbage to the lettuce. And the dressing really couldn't be easier. So, think of this as less of a recipe, and more as a few guidelines for this salad of salads.

Tacubaya Salad with Lemon-Lime Vinaigrette
adapted from Tacubaya Restaurant in Berkeley

1 bag mixed baby lettuce
1 bunch radishes, thinly sliced
2-3 carrots, shaved into strips
1 cucumber, thinly sliced
1 cup or more green cabbage, thinly sliced
1 cup or more red cabbage, thinly sliced
1 avocado, cubed
1 cup pepitas or pumpkin seeds, toasted (I usually get the raw ones from Trader Joe's)

for the Vinaigrette:
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp or more of sugar
1/4 tsp salt
olive oil (you need enough for that magic 3 - 1 ratio of oil to acid)

Mix ingredients to taste. It should be sweet, sour, and salty, all at the same time.

Toss everything together and serve.

No comments:

Post a Comment