This is a brilliant, pretty and unique salad from Jamie Oliver’s America cookbook, made using ingredients popular in Arizona. It combines roast avocado (my favourite discovery of recent years!), cheese and seed topped tortilla crisps, salad leaves, cress, lemon juice, chilli (optional) and cumin seeds. When you roast avocado it becomes slightly charred on the outside and extra soft in the middle and the olive oil, cumin seeds and seasoning really bring it alive. It is pretty special. You only need a baking tray and mixing bowl to prepare everything.
This is a great meal for guests but it is also handy to try with kids as it contains some naughty and appealing ingredients! My kids bulk at the word salad but were intrigued at the name (so called ‘mad dog salad’ because a cheeky local dog kept running off with the ingredients when Jamie was making it!) I gave them just one of each of the salad leaves (so they weren’t too put off) and a few sprigs of cress along with a little of the avocado (they are used to eating avocado raw) and plenty of the cheese and seed topped crisps.
Although the cheesy crisps were definitely the highlight, they did at least taste each salad leaf, and my youngest liked the avocado, so perhaps the term ‘salad’ has taken on a slightly more positive meaning in their little heads. We can hope!
The dish works out as about £5 in total. Allow 25 mins to make it.
Mad dog salad (serves 4)
2 ripe avocados
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
2-3 large handfuls of plain tortilla crisps
Large handful of grated cheddar cheese
Small handful of pine nuts (optional as expensive and not essential to the dish)
Handful of pumpkin seeds (cheap and available at supermarkets, normally in the Homebaking section)
1 bundle of cress, snipped
4 good handfuls of salad leaves
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 chopped chilli or shake dried chilli flakes (optional)
Preheat your oven to full whack. Halve, stone and peel your avocados and lay them on a roasting tray (cut smaller if you wish). Drizzle over some olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper and the cumin seeds. Toss until nicely coated, then roast in the oven for 15 mins so they get a bit of colour (you may need to roast for a few mins longer – until slightly golden at the edges). About 10 mins in, take the tray with the avocados out, lay out your tortilla crisps next to them and sprinkle over the cheddar, pine nuts and pumpkin seeds (over the crisps). Return to the oven for approx 5 mins so the cheese has time to melt and the nuts and seeds toast a little.
Mix your cress and salad leaves together. Drizzle over the lemon juice and some olive oil and sprinkle over a good pinch of salt and pepper. Quickly toss together. Take your avocados and tortillas out of the oven.
Put the salad leaves on individual plates, then the cheesy seedy crisps, avocado and scatter over any remaining seeds/pine nuts from the tray. Top with the chilli if you fancy. Serve!