If you’ve never found yourself daydreaming about a salad before, then CLEARLY you haven’t had a tex-mex salmon caesar.
The fiery spicy croutons tossed with HOMEMADE (insanely addictive) chili powder mix.
The cool crisp romaine lettuce bites.
The creamy tangy dressing with a twist of lime (and more of that chili powder OMGOMGOMG).
Holy moly. I think I need a cold shower.
Honestly it’s been a while since a salad has tugged on my heartstrings this much.
But maybe it’s because I wasn’t dousing my croutons in the spiciest chili powder known to man??
Hmmm. I LOVE IT.
If you don’t want to burn your tastebuds off, then feel free to add less of the homemade chili powder mix OR just use your own (less heavily spiced) chili powder. I advise against using the chili powder spice blends that are so often marketed as “chili powder” at the grocery store and really just going with a chili powder that’s just straight up ground chiles. But you do you!
This salad seems like it has quite a few steps, but it comes together easy – 20-30 minutes tops. Even less if you make your dressing and chili powder ahead of time.
I chose to add a simply seared salmon to my salad, but you can mix it up with chicken, pork, tofu, black beans, grilled vegetables, or avocado.
Just don’t forget the croutons.
- 1 oz dried arbol chiles (about 50), stemmed and seeded
- 1 oz dried guajillo chiles (about 6), stemmed and seeded
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
- 1.5 tsp chili powder spice mix (recipe above)
- pinch of fine sea salt
- black pepper, to taste
- 3 cups torn sourdough bread
- 2 tbsp finely grated cotija cheese
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 4-6 anchovy fillets, drained and minced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ tsp chili powder spice mix (recipe above)
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- zest and juice of 1 lime
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard
- 2 tsp worcestershire sauce
- 2 tbsp minced fresh cilantro
- ½ tsp fine sea salt
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp finely grated cotija cheese
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 4 salmon fillets
- 2 large romaine hearts, coarsely chopped
- ½ cup grated cotija cheese
- ½ cup crumbled queso fresco
- Heat oven to 350F. Combine all of the chiles on a baking sheet and place in the oven. Cook for 3-8 minutes, flipping the peppers every minute or so, until they are dark and toasted. Remove and allow to cool completely.
- Place the chiles in a blender and grind into a powder. Pour into an airtight container for storage.
- Heat oven to 375F.
- Whisk together the olive oil, garlic, thyme, oregano, chili powder, salt, and black pepper. In a large bowl toss the olive oil mixture with the bread pieces. Spread on a baking sheet and sprinkle the cotija cheese on top. Bake until golden and crispy, about 10-15 minutes.
- In a small skillet, combine the olive oil, anchovies, garlic, and chili powder. Heat on medium-low heat until the anchovies start to dissolve, about 1-2 minutes. Set aside to cool. Meanwhile in a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, lime zest and juice, mustard, worcestershire sauce, cilantro, salt, and pepper. Whisk in the cooled anchovy-garlic oil. Stir in the cotija cheese. Season to taste with salt, black pepper, and lime juice as needed.
- Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the oil to the pan. Once hot, add the salmon fillets skin-side down. Season the tops with salt and black pepper. Cook for 3-4 minutes, then flip and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes or cooked to desire degree of doneness. Remove from the pan and break the salmon into flakes with a fork, removing any skin if there is any.
- To assemble the salad, combine the romaine, salmon, croutons, and cotija cheese in a large bowl. Toss to coat with the dressing. Divide among four serving bowls and top with the crumbled queso fresco before serving.