Mexican chopped salad

The kiddo and I were helping out with a project at my parents’ house a few weeks ago when my son asked for a snack. We went into the kitchen and started scoping out our options.

It’s always weird looking through my parents’ kitchen because it is so very different from ours. Their cabinets are extraordinarily neat and organized, and while they don’t stock a lot of ingredients, they keep multiples on hand of all their most-used ingredients so they don’t run out. (Sifting through my own cabinets is more like a scavenger hunt.)

“Dishes, more dishes,” my kiddo commented while opening and closing cupboard doors. “Oh! I found the spice cabinet!”

I burst out laughing. The cupboard held an assortment of gravy mixes, au jus starter and a variety of bouillons and gravy bases. “That’s not the spice cabinet, hon,” I said. “That’s the gravy cabinet.” That caters to my dad’s taste in food.

Then the kiddo opened the fridge. “Lettuce … lettuce … more lettuce. Guess this is the lettuce fridge,” he said.

And that definitely caters to Mom’s taste in food. She’s always been a salad fanatic, easily burning through an entire bagged salad mix at each meal – topped with anything else she can find, but with a very minimal amount of dressing.

My mom turns 65 today, and she looks fan-frigging-tastic; she’s often mistaken for my much thinner, slightly older sister, and I assume all those salads help.

Mom genuinely prefers a big bowl of vegetables to a big slab of chocolate cake, so any time I’m looking to make something special for Mom, the recipe starts with an armload of vegetables from the produce aisle.

And maybe some chicken, which you can add to this salad to make it a main dish. You can chop the veggies larger for a side dish, or dice them more finely to make a sort of salsa to top grilled chicken or pork, or as dip for tortilla chips. (That’s my favorite.) And it’s light on the dressing so you still can taste the individual veggies.

Happy birthday, Mom!

Note: Jicama, which has the taste and texture of a cross between an apple and a raw potato, can be tough to find. You can omit it or substitute seeded, chopped cucumber for a similar texture.   

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