Whether it has a few ingredients or many, I love a good salad. Same goes for dressings to put on those salads. Pass me a bottled of preservative-enhanced blue cheese dressing and some greens and I’ll be flopping around like a pig in, well, you know where. Mix up a delicate fresh raspberry-walnut vinaigrette and I’ll flop around again. Flavorful dressings such as those along with a salad of ten different ingredients can really become a meal of its own. Sometimes however, lettuce, tomato, and onion tossed with a light, yet extremely simple dressing, can do wonders. Even more so if that salad accompanies grilled meats. It just works, as they say.
Many will call it ensalada mixta (mixed salad). Some may say ensalada de lechuga, tomate, y cebolla. (Lettuce, tomato, and onion salad). Others may just simply refer to it as an ensaladita (small salad). Yes that’s right, what many others around the world may call a simple salad. Onions, however in this case, may be offered separately for those who are biased over the intake of those odorous little round things that make our breath and body stink. Does the ingredient list end there? No, but you will typically find this salad with nothing more on the table for an asado. (see notes below)
Often you’ll find this salad lightly dressed right before serving with a bit of lemon juice or vinegar along with a touch of olive oil(other common salad oils may be used). Salt may be added but only a tiny amount or else the lettuce will turn into mush about fifteen minutes into the meal. A set of olive oil and vinegar on the table for those who want to add more.
A simple salad such as this acts as a great palate cleanser so take advantage to the full extent. Serve yourself a couple bites of salad, just a couple, while enjoying a portion of meat on your plate or while waiting for the asador to make another pass. You’ll be amazed at how well it increases your stamina for consuming a large amount of meat as the asado progresses.
- An ensalada mixta means just that a mixed salad. Although it is popularly referred to and listed on many menus as a lettuce, tomato, and onion salad, it is not exclusive to those ingredients. Some may add carrots, beets, bell peppers, etc.
- For large asados it is not uncommon to find a couple different salad variations at the table. Everyone has different tastes and you should try to accommodate for that. I find what works best is to lay out a bowl with lettuce and tomato, one with only lettuce, and finally one with only onion. This allows your guests to mix and match to their liking.
- Stick with looseleaf or romaine lettuce. They are popular and generally well liked by all. Quite a few people are picky with iceberg and butter head(aka Boston Bibb).
- Chop the lettuce and tomato into small enough pieces so that no one needs to use their knife or twiddle around with their fork to get a bite full. For onions, thinly sliver them.
- To dress the salad beforehand is up to you. At 99.9% of the asados out there you won’t find dainty little salad plates. I, myself, and many others, find it a little difficult to mix a salad with dressing on a plate alongside a piece of meat. You know what I mean, oil and vinegar splatters around and most likely will land on your shirt or the person sitting next to you. Plus you end up with an ever increasing puddle of oil and vinegar each time you want to grab a little portion to nibble on.