In the summer months, some Mexican cooks like to combine tart tomatillos with tangy chipotle chiles in adobo for a hearty, slightly spicy salad that’s the perfect accompaniment to tacos or arroz con pollo. If you don’t want to make your own totopos (fried tortillas), you can substitute purchased tortilla chips.
Summer Salad of Tomatillos
For the totopos:8 thin corn tortillas, 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) in diameter Corn or peanut oil for frying Fine sea salt (optional)
For the salad:1 lb. (500 g) tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and chopped into 1/2-inch (12-mm) pieces 1/2 white onion, finely chopped 3 Tbs. finely chopped fresh cilantro
For the dressing:1/4 cup (50 ml) extra-virgin olive oil 1 or 2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo, finely chopped 1 tsp. brown sugar Fine sea salt 1 cup (4 oz./125 g) crumbled cotija or feta cheese
1. To make the totopos, stack the tortillas in 2 equal piles. Cut each pile into 4 to 6 triangular wedges. Spread in a single layer, cover with a heavy kitchen towel or wire rack to prevent curling, and let dry for at least several hours.
2. In a heavy fry pan, heat 1 inch (2.5 cm) oil over medium-high heat to 375°F (190°C) on a deep-frying thermometer. (If you don’t have a thermometer, dip the edge of a tortilla into the oil; it should sizzle immediately and vigorously.)
3. Line a plate with paper towels. Add the tortilla pieces to the hot oil a few at a time and fry, turning them frequently, until light gold. Do not let them darken, or they will be bitter. Transfer to the paper towels to drain. Salt the totopos, if you like, while still hot.
4. Cover with a dry kitchen towel and keep warm for up to 30 minutes in a 200°F (90°C) oven. Store for up to 1 day, in an airtight plastic bag at room temperature. Recrisp, if necessary, for a few minutes in a 200°F (90°C) oven.
5. To make the salad, in a bowl, toss together the tomatillos, onion and cilantro.
6. To make the dressing, pour the olive oil into a small bowl, add half of the chipotle chiles, the brown sugar and salt to taste, and whisk vigorously until well blended. Taste and add more chile if desired. (Keep in mind that the dressing will not taste as intense after it is mixed with the tomatillos.)
7. Spoon on enough of the dressing to coat the tomatillos thoroughly. Arrange on a platter and sprinkle with the cheese. Sprinkle the totopos around the salad or serve in a separate bowl. Serves 6.
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