Tag Archives: Salad

Recipe: Ensalada de Atún | Venezuelan Tuna Salad

2 Aug

Why are salads always better when someone else makes them? I don’t know, but what I do know is that I love salads. Growing up in Venezuela, salads where a big part of my diet. Actually, being well-fed was a big part of my childhood. I had somewhat of a disciplined upbringing, but I love that I did, because that made me who I am today.

For most of my childhood I attended a bilingual school. I had to learn all the subjects in Spanish and in English. That was a total of 16 subjects. Yes, even math. Homework occupied most of my free time outside of school, since I had double the homework for each subject. In addition, I also attended music school, which encompassed hours of practice and more homework as well. Very exhausting for a child, that’s probably why I needed all that energy to power my brain.

Sometimes I had to scarf down my lunch in the car on the way from school to music lessons. Other times, I was dropped-off at my grandparents’ house after school, so I could walk to the music school after lunch, which was pretty close to their house. Those were actually my favorite days. This meant that I would have lunch at my grandparents’ house.

Lunch in Venezuela is traditionally the big meal. Dinner is usually lighter than lunch. My mom always made great delicious and filling lunches every day when I came home, but lunch at my grandparents’ house was more of a treat. They included appetizers, soups, salads, the lunch itself, always accompanied by plantains as a side, fresh fruit juice and usually dessert. Not to mention, grandma was always baking something for the afternoon meriendas, which I enjoyed after my music lessons.

Most of these proper lunches at my grandparents’ house included a salad or apio soup (my favorite) as an appetizer before the lunch. As a kid, I didn’t enjoy the fact that I had to first eat the salad before I could eat the lunch, but I think that is what made me love salads… and soups. I got used to them, and I ended up loving them.

Like I mentioned, in Venezuela dinner is usually smaller and lighter than lunch. Dinners are usually arepas, soups, sandwiches, or even just salads. A big filling salad, much like the tuna salad.

Tuna is very common and accessible in Venezuela. This common and large blue-ish fish with that delicious fatty and tasty meat can be found in the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean amongst others. The most common species in Venezuela include the Albacore tuna, the Bigeye tuna, and the Yellowfin tuna.

Obviously the most common and easiest way to consume tuna fish is canned tuna. This makes it the perfect ingredient for a light and simple dinner; Tuna Salad. As I mentioned, salads are always best when someone else is making it. My grandma and aunt Gaby are known for their delicious salads and homemade vinaigrettes. On the other hand, my sister Mariale is known for her exquisite Christmas Dinner Chicken Salad and her Tuna Salad. A few weeks ago, I drove 7-8 hours to visit her in Illinois and the first thing I asked her to make for me when I got there was her famous tuna salad. Before I left, I had to ask her to make it again, so we could add it to the blog. It’s a very simple recipe and it’s very light, perfect for a light Venezuelan dinner, or anytime you are on a diet.

This tuna salad recipe is also perfect to enjoy as a filling for arepas. You can serve the arepa on the side of the salad, or you can serve an arepa filled with tuna salad. It’s the perfect arepa filling recipe. Either way I would also recommend adding a few slices of avocado on the side.

Ingredients for Recipe: Ensalada de Atún | Venezuelan Tuna Salad.

What you need:
– 3 cans of white albacore tuna in water (4oz cans, drained)
– 2 Tomatoes, diced
– ½ Large onion, diced
– ¼ Cup chopped cilantro
– ½ Cup light mayo
– 1 tbsp. lemon juice (from 1/2 lemon)
– Salt & Pepper to taste
– Optional: Avocado slices, lemon wedges and arepas.

Preparation:
1. Chop the onion, tomatoes and cilantro. Combine ingredients in a large bowl.

2. Drain the tuna very well and add it to the bowl.

Ensalada de Atún | Venezuelan Tuna Salad

3. Add the mayo a bit at a time, while mixing with the rest of the ingredients. For a lighter version, you can add less mayo. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix well until all ingredients are evenly distributed and coated with mayo.

Ensalada de Atún | Venezuelan Tuna Salad

5. Serve with avocado slices and lemon wedges on the side and enjoy. You can enjoy it by itself, on top of toast, as a tuna salad sandwich, with crackers, or as a dip with chips.

Ensalada de Atún | Venezuelan Tuna Salad

6. This recipe is perfect as an arepa filling option as well. Open the hot arepa fresh from the stove, and stuff it with the cold tuna salad. Serve with optional avocado slices and lemon wedges on the side. This is a great option for a light dinner of filled arepas.

Ensalada de Atún | Venezuelan Tuna Salad. Arepa rellena de ensalada de atún | Arepa Filling of Tuna Salad.

¡Buen Provecho!

Ensalada de Atún | Venezuelan Tuna Salad. Arepa rellena de ensalada de atún | Arepa Filling of Tuna Salad.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Recipe: Ensalada de Gallina | Venezuelan Christmas Dinner Chicken Salad

14 Dec Recipe: Ensalada de Gallina | Venezuelan Christmas Dinner Chicken Salad

“Pollito chicken, gallina hen
lápiz pencil y pluma pen”

This is a short verse of a popular Spanish children’s song that helped us learn English when we were kids.  It was the first thing I thought of when researching today’s recipe and the history behind it.  The literal translation for this recipe is actually hen salad, not chicken salad.  The original recipe from the early 1940’s included hen, specifically.  However, as time passed and availability of chicken versus hen specifically became larger and more cost effective, the chicken replaced the hen in this traditional recipe.  Probably, due to hen being smaller and having less meat content and their meat also requires more time to cook thoroughly.  The difference between chicken and hen, if you don’t know, is that chicken refers to both the male and female versions, while hen refers only to the female chicken.  Nevertheless, the name of the recipe retained its original denomination: Ensalada de Gallina, Hen Salad.
The chicken salad is another important component in the Venezuelan Christmas Dinner Plate.  However, unlike the hallacas and the pan de jamón, the chicken salad is not exclusive to Christmas.  The chicken salad is prepared all year long, and it is quite versatile, taking the stage as a main dish, but also as a side, as a cracker topper or dip, and even as a filling inside arepas.  The chicken salad is also very popular in any birthday party or any other celebration or family gathering in Venezuela.  The best part of this recipe is that it is the easiest one to prepare out of all the Venezuelan Christmas recipes.  This is probably why it is usually prepared last, even on the same day of the Christmas dinner, which we usually celebrate on Christmas Eve.  It must be refrigerated, but it is best when consumed the same day or the day after, but not longer than that, since it can become bitter very quickly.
It is believed that this recipe originated in the most humble stoves in Caracas’ shacks.  When the leftovers of chicken stews such as the chicken, potatoes and carrots where mixed together with mayo to create this cold salad.  When the dish found its way to the wealthier parts of town, they gave it the name of Russian Salad in order for it to sound more sophisticated and fancy than hen salad.  They picked the name Russian Salad, because in fact our Venezuelan Hen / Chicken salad is very similar to the Russian Salad.  The Russian Salad was created around 1860 by an Italian chef in Moscow, and it originally contained deer meat.  With time, the original recipe was changed, but it had already crossed over to other countries, such as Ukraine, where green peas and chicken were cheaper and thus added on to the original recipe.

 Ensalada de Gallina  | Venezuelan Christmas Dinner Chicken Salad

Ensalada de Gallina | Venezuelan Christmas Dinner Chicken Salad

What you need:
For Cooking The Chicken
– 1½ lbs. Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
– 1 Lemon (Juice)
– Enough Water to Boil Chicken Breasts
– ¼ Onion
– 1Cilantro Stems
– 1 Green Onion Stems
– 1 Celery Stick
– 1 Chopped Garlic Clove
– 1 Leek Stick
– 1 Ají Dulce Venezolano (without seeds or veins)
– 1 Tablespoon Salt
For the Salad
– 2 Small To Medium Potatoes
– 2 Medium To Large Carrot Sticks
– 1 Red, Green or Yellow Apple (Peeled)
– ¼ Cup Canned Green/Sweet Peas (No Salt Added)
– ½ Onion (Optional)
– 1 Red Bell Pepper (Optional)
– 2 Celery Sticks (Optional)
– 2 Cilantro Stems
For The Sauce
– 1 Cup Mayo
– 2 Tablespoons Mustard
– 3 Tablespoons White Vinegar
– ½ Tablespoon White Pepper
– ½ Teaspoon Salt
– ½ Teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce (Optional)
Preparation:
1. Clean the chicken breasts using the juice of one lemon and rinse thoroughly with water.

Rinse thoroughly with water

Rinse thoroughly with water

2. In a large enough pot, add the chicken, onion, cilantro, green onion, celery, leek, ají dulce Venezolano, and the salt.  You don’t have to worry about chopping these ingredients, they are being used to add flavor to the chicken.  Use enough water to cover all the ingredients and cook everything at medium heat for about 30 minutes, or until the chicken is done.
3. Remove the chicken from the pot, drain and set aside to cool down.

Set aside to cool down

Set aside to cool down

4. Wash and peel the potatoes.  Cook the potatoes with enough water and a little bit of salt.  Boil for about 10 minutes.  You want them to be done, but still firm so they don’t get mushy while making the salad.

Cook the potatoes

Cook the potatoes

5. Wash and peel the carrots.  Cook the carrots separately with enough water and a little bit of salt. Boil for about 20 minutes.

Cook the carrots separately

Cook the carrots separately

6. Once the potatoes and carrots are done, cool them down in a big bowl with some cold water and ice.

Cool down the potatoes and carrots

Cool down the potatoes and carrots

7. Your chicken should be cooled down by now.  Shred the chicken breasts using your hands or two forks.

Shred the chicken breasts

Shred the chicken breasts

Shredded chicken breasts

Shredded chicken breasts

8. Begin to cut the potatoes, carrots, apple, celery, and bell pepper in small cubes. Finely chop the onion using a food processor.  Chop the cilantro as well.

Cut the potatoes in small cubes

Cut the potatoes in small cubes

Cut the carrots in small cubes

Cut the carrots in small cubes

Cut the apple in small cubes

Cut the apple in small cubes

Cut the celery in small cubes

Cut the celery in small cubes

Cut the red bell pepper in small cubes

Cut the red bell pepper in small cubes

Chop the cilantro

Chop the cilantro

Finely chop the onion

Finely chop the onion

9. In a large enough bowl, combine the chicken with the finely chopped onion.  Then add this to all the other ingredients chopped and cubed in the previous step, plus the green peas.

Combine the chicken with the finely chopped onion

Combine the chicken with the finely chopped onion

Combine

Combine

10. Add the mayo, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper and mix all the ingredients together.  Adjust the salt and mayo if necessary to taste.

Add the sauce ingredients

Add the sauce ingredients

Mix well, but carefully

Mix well, but carefully

11. Decorate as you wish. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before eating.  Serve cold.

Recipe: Ensalada de Gallina  | Venezuelan Christmas Dinner Chicken Salad

Recipe: Ensalada de Gallina | Venezuelan Christmas Dinner Chicken Salad

Recipe: Ensalada de Gallina  | Venezuelan Christmas Dinner Chicken Salad

Recipe: Ensalada de Gallina | Venezuelan Christmas Dinner Chicken Salad

¡Buen Provecho!

Recipe: Ensalada de Remolacha | Venezuelan Beet Salad

25 Mar Ensalada de Remolacha | Venezuelan Beet Salad

I wasn’t sure how to call this recipe, and I don’t know where it came from or how it came to be. All I know is that I have always called this salad the “Ensalada Rusa”, which means Russian Salad. I just didn’t want to call this recipe the ‘Venezuelan Russian Salad’, because that doesn’t make sense. However, I am pretty sure that is not the name for this salad, because when I Google it I get the recipes for a different salad, a salad similar to chicken salad or Olivier Salad.

When I was a kid I was not a fan of the word salad or “ensalada”. When I would ask “What’s for lunch?”, I didnt want to hear that salad was on the menu. However, my mom used to make this beet salad all the time, because she knew it was the one salad I would eat, and even ask for seconds. My grandma also used to make the same beet salad, but she included lettuce in it, and I wasn’t a fan of the lettuce addition. I would still eat it, but I probably wouldn’t ask for seconds. This salad is delicious, mainly because it’s not really a salad. I consider it more of a side dish, a carb-loaded side dish. And who doesn’t love carbs?

These past holidays my sister came to visit us from Venezuela and I asked her to help me cook some of my favorite dishes so I could blog about them and post the recipes. As soon as she told me she always makes this salad back home, I knew I had to go buy the ingredients and have her show me how to make it. I had never found a good recipe online, and I wanted to know how my mom used to make it. So we bought all the ingredients and she made it for me. It was just like my mom used to make it, and it was very easy, too.

One thing you must know… this salad is pink! My sister and I even thought it would be a great salad or side dish to serve at a bachelorette’s party, girl’s baby shower or party… or any pink themed party!

Ingredients Venezuelan Beet Salad

Ingredients Venezuelan Beet Salad

What you need:
– 3 Small to Medium Potatoes
– 3 Eggs
– 2 Beets
– 2 to 3 Carrot Sticks
– ¼ Chopped Onion
– ½ Cup Mayo
– 1 Teaspoon Vinegar
– 1 ½ Teaspoon Lemon Juice
– 1 Teaspoon Salt

Preparation:

1. Rinse all the vegetables. You don’t have to peel the beets, in fact, you shouldn’t. But you can peel the potatoes and carrots if you wish to save some time.
2. Boil the beets in a large pot with enough water to cover them entirely. You don’t have to boil all the vegetables separately, but it is preferred that you do. (Beets usually take around 45 minutes)
3. On a separate pot boil the potatoes and carrots. (About 15-20 minutes)
4. On a separate pot, boil the eggs. (About 7 minutes – and peel once done)
5. Once all your vegetables are ready, you can put them in a bowl with cold water and ice so they are easier to handle.
6. Cut all the ingredients in small cubes and put them in a large bowl. Don’t forget the onion.

Venezuelan Beet Salad

Cut into small pieces

Venezuelan Beet Salad

Add vegetables and eggs in a large bowl

7. Add the mayo, vinegar and lemon juice and mix well, but delicately so you don’t smash any ingredients and it turns into puree.

Venezuelan Beet Salad

Add the mayo and mix delicately

8. Add salt to taste and you can add white pepper if you wish.
9. Serve cold.

Ensalada de Remolacha | Venezuelan Beet Salad

Ensalada de Remolacha | Venezuelan Beet Salad

Ensalada de Remolacha | Venezuelan Beet Salad

Ensalada de Remolacha | Venezuelan Beet Salad

¡Buen Provecho!

*Optional: Some people (like my grandma) like to add finely chopped lettuce to this salad. My mom also adds a bit of mustard sometimes. Other people add a bit of extra virgin olive oil and even a touch of soy sauce.

Recipe: Layered Salad

25 Jan

This salad is great to serve as a side with the Venezuelan Pasticho Recipe I posted last week.  I’m not usually big on salads that have fruit or nuts, but when my cousin made this one for me I was hooked and now I like to eat it all the time.

What you need:
– Romaine Lettuce
– Baby Green Mix
– Apples
– Tomatoes
– Hearts of Palm
– Avocados
– Goat Cheese
– Almonds
– Ken’s Sweet Vidalia Onions Vinagrette.

Preparation:

1.  Chop the lettuce and baby greens if necessary, to bite sized pieces.
2.  Chop the tomatoes and apples.
3.  Slice the hearts of palm and avocados.
4.  On a large enough serving dish place a layer of romaine lettuce, then a layer of baby greens mix, a layer of apples, a layer of tomatoes, a layer of avocadoes, a layer of hearts of palm, a layer of crumbled goat cheese, and a layer of almonds.
5. Serve with Ken’s Sweet Vidalia Onions dressing on the side.

Layered Salad

Layered Salad

¡Buen Provecho!

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