El Torito Southwestern Caesar Salad

"El Torito Restaurant's Caesar salad has been a popular favorite for decades; I obtained the recipe in 1994 when it was published in the Los Angeles Times and have made it many times since. The recipe contains some Mexican ingredients such as pepitas, which are roasted pumpkin seeds, avilable at Trader Joes, as well as at Mexican markets. The cotija cheese ia a Mexican grating cheese. If not available use any hard grating cheese such as Parmesan."
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Ready In:
6 salads




  • Cut tortillas into matchstick-size strips; then heat oil for deep-frying . Add tortilla strips and cook for a few seconds until crisp; remove with a slotted spoon, drain and set aside.
  • Tear romaine lettuce into bite size pieces and place greens on six salad plates.
  • Ladle Cilantro-Pesto dressing on each salad and sprinkle each dish with cotija cheese and tortilla strips.
  • Arrange four red pepper strips like spokes on top of each salad and garnish with pepitas.
  • For the Dressing.
  • Place chile, pepitas, garlic, pepper, salt, oil, vinegar and cotija cheese in a blender or food processor; and blend for about 10 seconds, then add cilantro, bit by bit, until smoothly blended.
  • Place mayonnaise and water in large stainless-steel bowl and whisk until smooth.
  • Add blended chile mixture and mix thoroughly.
  • If the dressing is made ahead, place in an airtight container and refrigerate. May be stored up to three days.

Questions & Replies

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  1. durangobetsy
    A very kind waitress from El Torito mailed me this recipe 25 years ago after I ate there on a business trip and begged for their salad dressing recipe, and it has been a treasured favorite ever since. It is One Of Those Recipes People Ask For when you serve them this salad.
  2. adopt a greyhound
    Amazingly wonderful salad. I have made it a few times and love it. The dressing it great as a dip also.


I live in a wooded hillside area of Los Angeles where it feels like being out in the country. I grew up in Rhode Island, and came to LA after graduating from URI. I recently retired from my job as an environmental specialist. So now I have time to collect internet recipes. My hobbies & interests are aquatics, shell collecting, my cats, feeding stray cats, home improvement projects and cooking. I love to travel and, years ago, lived in Mexico for several months. My favorite cookbooks are the ones written by Diana Kennedy; they are all great; and I have them all, some signed by her when I was enrolled in her cooking classes. I have a lot of cookbooks; some of my other fave authors and their books are: Madhur Jaffrey (especially World Vegetarian, World of East Vegetarian Cooking and A Taste of the Far East), Faye Levy, Martha Rose Shulman (especially Mediterranean Light, Provencal Light and Mexican Light) and Paula Wolfert.
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