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.

Culinary Quest #2 – Garbanzo Bean Soup

When I was little, my mom used to treat my sister and me to a rare visit at an upscale Spanish restaurant. They had the best¬†garbanzo¬†bean soup and pumpernickel bread in the world! ¬†My mom also loved their flan (I couldn’t get past its texture). Actually, those three things are all I knew they offered. ¬†I didn’t even know they had a menu because she never asked for one. Why? Too pricey. I was an adult before I knew they had things like paella, seafood, and chicken & rice. That’s okay, because their soup and bread was the best.

After my husband and I got married, we moved into our one-bedroom apartment while working our way through college. I missed the taste of my childhood – including the garbanzo bean soup. So, I set out on a culinary quest to recreate it. After much experimenting, I did!

It’s super easy and freezes well. ¬†Hope you like it, too.

Kristi’s Garbanzo Bean Soup

1 bag               dry garbanzo beans/chick peas (same thing)

1 large            onion (sweet); diced

1 bag               frozen (or fresh) mixed fresh pepper strips (red, green & yellow); diced 

2 pkgs ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Turkey Polish Kielbasa links, fully cooked; sliced into bite-sized pieces (I use Butterball brand ‚Äď no MSG)

2 boxes ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† chicken broth (I use Wolfgang Puck‚Äôs all natural stock) ‚Äď 32oz each

1 box ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†beef broth (Wolfgang‚Äôs) ‚Äď 32oz

1T                    dried parsley

Directions:

1. Soak beans for 3 hrs in a large bowl of water (enough to cover beans while absorbed)

2. Drain beans & discard water

3. Add all ingredients to crock pot and cook for 5hrs on low then 2 hrs on high (or until beans are soft and onions are translucent)

<You can also soak the beans overnight and reduce cooking time to 5 hrs on low>


Culinary Quest #1 – Strawberry Shortcake Trifle

Yeah! ¬†It’s Saturday! ¬†A day for exhaling, maybe sleeping in a little, no make-up, running shoes, and hopefully doing something you really enjoy amid projects and work. ¬†Two things I enjoy are baking and cooking – depending on if my mood is sweet or savory or both!

I was in the grocery store yesterday and a huge display of strawberries caught my eye and smelled so good. ¬†It’s great when produce hits its peak season because the price drops!

Every spring, my family looks forward to a special treat – homemade strawberry shortcake trifle. ¬†I just couldn’t resist those small, red juicy treats begging me to take them home yesterday, so trifle here we come! ¬†Thought I’d share our version of this classic spring & summer dessert:

Strawberry Shortcake Trifle (serves about 12)

5           quarts of strawberries; washed, de-stemmed & cut in half (reserve the biggest, best berry uncut w/stem)

3/4c    sugar

3T        flour or cornstarch

1           angel food cake or individual sponge cakes

12oz   whipped topping

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Directions for the sauce:

Place 2 quarts of berries in a sauce pot, covered, on low/med heat until they begin to boil. Stir occasionally.

Once they begin to boil, turn heat to low, remove lid, and cook until they have thickened a bit.

Remove from heat and beat the flour or cornstarch into the cooked berries with an electric mixer until smooth.

Put the sauce pot back on low heat and cook until thick. Stir occasionally.

Pour into a bowl, cover, and refrigerate until cold (at least an hour).

Assembly:

Cut the angel food cake (or sponge cakes) into cubes.

Layer 1/3 of the cake in the bottom of a trifle bowl or large clear serving bowl.

Pour 1/2 of the sauce over the cake.

Add 1/2 of remaining fresh, halved strawberries.

Add 6oz of whipped topping in large dollops.

Repeat layers, finishing with whipped topping.

Taking the whole, reserved berry, cut the berry in slices – not all the way through – just to the stem. ¬†Fan the berry’s slices on top.

The sauce is also great on pancakes, waffles, over ice cream, etc.  Frozen strawberries can be used for the sauce if fresh is not available.  Other berries can be substituted.

Have a sweet day!
Kristi