Monday, January 30, 2012

Fritos not Corn Chips Please!!! California Patio Salad with Tuna and Creamy Avocado Dressing

Ok this is really a Mexican salad. It's one of the oldest recipes for an entree salad I can remember from my family dinner table. It is also not original. ( Oh! like anything really is these days!) That is to say from what I know, it was the rage on many a dinner table in the 1960's and still lingers in the hearts and I imagine on the tables of many families today. But try and find it on the internet and not so much luck!

I mean every time I make this salad, people ask for the recipe. It is the way my mom got the recipe herself. In 1963 she and my father were living in California, newly weds, and got invited to a dinner party. It was a lovely evening and my mom said that when the hostess brought out the dinner to the table in the backyard patio she was surprised to see it was a salad. I guess that's because it was 1963 or because it was California, but in any event she was not familiar with this salad or the "Salad as a Meal" concept. I'm not sure which, but I digress.

 As the story goes it was apparently it was a hit, as everyone dug in a devoured it! After dinner she asked the hostess for the recipe and took it with her, secure in the knowledge that she now had a winner for the next dinner party she would throw.

SO, that brings us to the table today. I know this salad from growing up with it. We had two kinds of Mexican entree salads in the house recipe box. One was made with ground beef and beans and taco chips, your traditional Mexican taco salad. The other was this tuna based salad with an avacado dressing and corn chips. I was later told in life by a reliable source that this tuna salad had come from a Sunset magazine recipe printed first in the 1960's. I was also told by this person that it had been a big favorite of home entertaining in the 60's and 70's but had somehow fallen out of the mainstream as time passed.

Online I found it or a version of it after really really searching a few cooking recipe sites and some Blogs including where she actually had a version of this recipe. She had adapted it from Dice and Slice cookbook. Well I don't have no stinkin cookbook! (yet!)  But I do have the original recipe from the 1960's dinner party in California, and that's good enough for me.

So the thing you need to know about this salad is IT IS REALLY REALLY GOOD AND PEOPLE REALLY REALLY LOVE IT! So if you make it prepare for the compliments and people wanting seconds. 

So what makes this salad so good, well simple, the dressing! It's creamy and rich and not for the faint of calories. But it's also good fats so you can feel better about eating it! The other thing is that you can't just use any old plain tortilla chips. No! You must use Fritos Brand Corn Chips. The reason for this is simple. In the 1960's chips were not as prevalent as they are today. Nationally, Fritos was the only "Corn Chip" on the commercial market. So when Sunset made the original recipe they intended you to use Fritos. ( Which by the way are actually,for chips, very healthy! Oil not withstanding) The taste is the difference. You can use Corn chips but Fritos will give you a much better salad taste. I Promise!

OK so to make your salad it's really very simple! Please note presentation notes it will make the TADA! factor when you serve it. Enjoy Ya'll!

California Patio Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing


For the Salad :
4 cans of tuna 5 oz (1 can of tuna 5 oz for every person, this makes a salad for 4 plus seconds)
1 head Iceberg or romaine lettuce core removed and chopped into thin strips
2 large tomatoes cut into wedges ( hold in reserve for garnish)
1 large tomato diced
1 bunch Green onions chopped ( white parts and green parts) ( 1 cup held in reserve for garnish)
1 can 8 oz black california olives sliced ( hold 2 tablespoons for garnish)
1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese ( hold 1/2 cup for garnish)
1 bag Fritos Brand Corn chips crushed! 1 1/2 cup crushed for salad, the rest held in reserve for garnish

Simple right?

For the Dressing: ( in a blender) this makes extra dressing on the side if people want it!

2 large or 3 small very ripe avocados removed from the shells and placed in the blender
(cut the avacado in half and with the butt of the blade pick out the pits, then use a spoon to remove the flesh)
1/2 cup salad oil ( I like canola)
1 cup mayo
31/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon hot sauce
3 garlic cloves minced
3 tablespoons Cumin
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 cup water ( use to thin as needed)

Place in a blender and go go go!! If its to thick add water through the top in a slow stream till smooth and creamy.

To assemble place all ingredients in a very large salad bowl except the ones held in reserve for garnish.
add 1 cup dressing and toss, add more dressing to your liking till salad is dressed moist, but not wet with the dressing.

To serve:

Wipe the inside rim of the bowl so it's clean down to the salad in the bowl.
Then sprinkle a large hand full of chips on the top.
Place the tomatoes in a ring on top of salad around the bowl, in a circle all wedges facing in the same direction back to front like half moons around the bowl.
sprinkle on green onions
then black olives
then cheese

To serve present at table and serve so each person gets something from the toppings. And have extra dressing on the side for people if they want it.
Enjoy the compliments !!!

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