Cuban Sandwich Salad

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Growing up in Florida, I’ve savored Cuban sandwiches ever since I can remember. Cubans can be enjoyed hot or cold, and whether served in school cafeterias, packed for lunches on the beach, or grab & go from the deli, Cubans have been a part of every season of my life. Mmmm….

So I thought I’d try my hand at transforming this delicious sandwich into a decadent salad!

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Keeping this salad true to the original Cuban sandwich, the ingredients are especially important. A “real” Cuban does not have mayo, fancy mustards, tomatoes, or any type of cheese other than Swiss; nor is it served on a hoagie. If a Cuban sandwich comes your way with any of these, it’s a fraud. ūüėČ

An authentic Cuban simply has butter, yellow mustard, roasted or barbequed pork, ham, Italian salami, Swiss cheese, dill pickles and Cuban bread. That’s it!

I used these ingredients (and their proportions to the sandwich) to keep this salad true to form. The dressing has real butter and yellow mustard. Italian seasoning compliments the salami’s spices. Rice vinegar and shallots are the mildest flavors of vinegars and onions so as to give this dressing personality but not dominate the salad or change the Cuban’s original flavor. And the vinegar also compliments the vinegar-soaked pickles; an awesome combination.

The point of the dressing is to get mustard and butter into this dish (like on the sandwich) and lightly coat the lettuce so it is still a proper salad yet with all of the authentic flavors of a Cuban sandwich.

IMG_E2337[1]Don’t skimp on the pickles! A true Cuban has bity dill pickles that deliver a crunch. Please skip the shelved, limp pickles and get the fresh, refrigerated pickles. Their crisp crunch and fresh taste is light years beyond any non-refrigerated pickle. Trust me on this! Good pickles are the ingredient that pulls this entire dish together. They are the crowning jewel of this salad; use at least 2 cups but add more if you’d like.

The mixed soft greens of spring, kale and watercress are given texture with crunchy cabbage and Brussel sprouts which do not add flavor, but do add texture and nutrition with the Brussels.

We prefer hard salami to Genoa, but either works. The roast pork is a cheat that I buy precooked from the deli. It’s definitely a time-saver, and since it’s part of the entree and not the main course I’m totally fine buying a pre-cooked portion of pork versus roasting an entire tenderloin – though leftovers are never a bad thing.

Lastly, serve with Cuban bread on the side or skip it for a gluten-free option.

My family kept saying that they couldn’t believe how much this salad tasted like a Cuban sandwich, woohoo!!

Enjoy Cuban sandwich flavors on top of a zesty, high-protein salad that, when paired together, you have a new, uncompromised version of the Cuban we all know and love.

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(Serves 4 to 6)

Salad:

4oz                         Spring mix lettuce

4oz                         Baby Kale

4oz                         Watercress

4oz                        Angel hair plain Coleslaw cabbage

4c                           Brussel sprouts; thinly sliced & ends cut off

3/4#                       Ham; diced (you can buy it pre-diced)

3/4#                       Roast pork; diced (pre-cooked from the deli)

1/2#                       Italian hard salami; diced (buy one thick piece from the deli then dice it)

3/4#                       Swiss cheese; diced

2c                           Dill pickles; chopped (use the refrigerated kind like Claussen dill)

1                             Cuban bread; optional- leave soft or toast and cut into cubes as croutons

Dressing:

4T                          Butter; unsalted & melted

1/4c                       Grapeseed or vegetable oil

2                            Shallots; peeled, ends cut off and then cut shallots in half

2t                           Italian herb seasoning

3/4c                       Plain/natural rice vinegar

4T                          Yellow mustard

2t                           Fresh minced garlic

4t                           Sugar

1/2t                        Salt

1/8t                        Black pepper

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Directions:

  1. Make the dressing by melting butter in the microwave or on the stovetop, then blend all dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor.

 

  1. If saving for later, pour dressing into a bottle, bowl or measuring cup that can be microwaved to keep butter melted if it cools and thickens. Otherwise simply set it aside. Dressing should be room temperature when served.

 

  1. In a large bowl, toss spring lettuce, baby kale, watercress, cabbage and Brussels with the dressing until evenly coated. Divide evenly among 4-6 serving plates.

 

  1. Plate salads by dividing remaining ingredients evenly and layering them on top of the dressed greens in the order listed above beginning with ham and ending with pickles.

 

5. Garnish with Cuban bread, optional. Serve immediately.

BBQ Slaw Salad

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Do you like BBQ dinners but not the heavy feeling after eating them? This BBQ plate fills you up without needing a nap afterwards.

This dish looks as yummy as it tastes, with several flavors going on here.

Red wine vinegar offers a cohesive flavor between the onions, BBQ sauce and the slaw dressing amid the different textures and tastes of this recipe. The crunch of the slaw, pickled onions & pumpkin seeds pairs well with the soft pork. The mixed greens catch the extra BBQ juices and slaw dressing, making it a bonus salad unto itself. The cornbread replaces a traditional bun and has much more flavor (and doesn’t get soggy like a bun). I like to mix everything together (sans the cornbread) so as to get even flavors of everything in each bite. Enjoy a lighter, yet filling, take on this Southern dish!

INGREDIENTS: Serves 4

1#                  Pulled pork BBQ

2 bags            Broccoli slaw (or cabbage slaw)

1, 5oz bag     Mixed greens

1c                  Pickled red onions

1 box             Cornbread

SLAW DRESSING: 

4T        Mayo

3T        Red wine vinegar

4T        Agave syrup

3T        BBQ sauce

1/2t     Celery salt

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Whisk together all of the slaw dressing ingredients together and then blend in the bag of broccoli slaw, tossing well to coat. Refrigerate until ready to serve. *OR* Buy slaw dressing in the refrigerated section of salad dressings in the grocery store and add 6T per total jar (adjust amounts depending on your servings size). Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  2. Use store-bought cornbread or make with either a BOX MIX or THIS RECIPE (I half the sugar and butter in this recipe).
  3. Use store-bought pork BBQ or make it fresh with THIS RECIPE.
  4. Use THIS RECIPE for the pickled red onions. It’s really easy and one batch lasts for an entire month.
  5. When ready to serve, assemble the salad: greens on the bottom, then slaw, then BBQ, and top with pickled onions. Add cornbread and your all set. Enjoy!

 

BBQ Pulled Pork or Beef – restaurant style

If you love BBQ and go to a restaurant to get it, you probably don’t put just one kind of sauce on your beef or pork. You put at least two, maybe three! That’s one reason why BBQ at home never tastes the same…because we’re dumping one kind of sauce on the meat.

My BBQ is the secret sauce of mixing different flavored sauces together and adding one special ingredient. This recipe is crazy easy and freezes great!

Now you can enjoy restaurant-style BBQ at home any time you want, and any time is a delicious time for BBQ!

INGREDIENTS:

1 pack          Pork shoulder (a.k.a. pork butt, however the cut is actually the shoulder) or                                  Beef chuck roast, whichever you prefer

1-2 bottles¬† ¬†Red, sweet BBQ sauce (Our very favorite is Old Mule Original, but if you can’t¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† find it, Sweet Baby Ray’s Original or Stubb’s Original bbq sauce works)

1-2 bottles¬† ¬†Tangy, Memphis-style BBQ sauce (I use our local grocery store’s brand, but¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† any Memphis-style sauce will work)

1/2-3/4c      Red wine vinegar (secret ingredient!!)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place meat in a crock pot. Add 1c of water. Place lid on top and turn crock pot on high for several hours depending on the number of pounds of meat. Check it every couple of hours.
  2. When the meat is done, turn off the crock pot. You will know it’s done when it looks visibly cooked through (pork should not look raw/pink) and easily falls apart when you try to lift it with tongs.
  3. Using tongs, lift out a chunk of meat at a time and place it on a cutting board.
  4. Using two forks, separate the meat from everything else (fat, tendons, gristle, etc.). This is not hard to do, but does take some time.
  5. Then shred the meat with the two forks by pulling it apart.
  6. Put the shredded meat into a saucepot. Pour both sauces and red wine vinegar onto the meat and stir until blended.
  7. Keep the sauce pot on low heat until the sauce has thickened and BBQ is heated through.
  8. If freezing, let the BBQ cool to room temperature first. Never freeze meat hot. This recipe will typically yield several pounds of BBQ because of how the meat is packaged and sold, so call some friends to come over or pack up what you don’t need immediately and freeze it for later. Think sliders, sandwiches and my BBQ Slaw Salad recipe!