A simple Mexican salad of grilled zucchini, avocado, and salty, crumbled queso fresco is a wonderful addition to your Thanksgiving table. Frida Kahlo’s Ensalada de Calabacín is drizzled with a quick and easy red wine vinegar made in a mason jar.
Art plays a major role in our household. I love filling my walls with colorful art from talented Texas artists. My daughter is also passionate about Art, she dreams of majoring in art. She paints daily, and makes this mami happy – my walls are filled with her creations.
We often chat about Frida, her art, how art saved her from a life of pain. When I came across this recipe for Frida Kahlo’s Ensalada de Calabacín I knew my daughter would love it.
Art y Comida – the perfect combination.
In the 1930s, artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo often hosted festive dinner parties—which Frida called “día de los manteles largos,” the days of the long tablecloth—at their Mexico City home.
The recipe for this simple Mexican salad of grilled zucchini, avocado, and salty, crumbled añjeo cheese was served at a dinner party attended by Mexican composer Carlos Chávez and Nelson Rockefeller. This recipe comes from Frida’s Fiestas by Guadalupe Rivera and Marie-Pierre Cole (Clarkson Potter, 1994).
“Whenever people came to Mexico, it was a very important part of their visit to see Frida and Diego,” said Diego López Rivera, grandson of the legendary Mexican painter Diego Rivera and step-grandson of surrealist artist Frida Kahlo.
The upper echelons of society all had an invitation to dine with them. On any given night you might find the Rockefellers, Frank Lloyd Wright, Orson Welles, Gary Cooper, or Leon Trotsky eating classic Mexican dishes, listening to mariachi music, and drinking tequila well into the early hours of the morning.
Diego López Rivera, described how dinner with Frida and Diego would involve an overflowing feast beginning with soup, perhaps made with chicken broth and the toasted, vermicelli-like pasta fideos.
This would be followed by a salad of grilled zucchini, avocado, and salty queso añejo, perhaps, and creamy, ricotta-like requesón or other local cheeses.
The main course was always a showstopper: manchamantel, chicken and pork braised in a chile-spiked sauce; or Rivera’s favorite, mole de pato, duck stewed in a sauce of chocolate and chiles.
HOW TO MAKE ENSALADA DE CALABACIN (ZUCCHINI SALAD)
I shake the dressing in a mason jar, and you can make it up to two days in advance.
I often make a double batch and use it throughout the week on my lunch salads.
Feel free to add any dried spices you have on-hand to this dressing – dried oregano, dried dill or ground ancho pepper.
Easily swap out 3 large zucchini for the 6 small zucchini in this recipe
Lay cooked zucchini on baking sheet to cool, before layering with avocado, this will prevent the avocado from turning brown/soggy from the heat of the zucchini.
If taking to a pot-luck – cook zucchini, place in fridge and assemble before serving.
I totally doubled the crumbled queso fresco on this recipe, feel free to do as well.
MAS THANKSGIVING RECIPES
- 8 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 6 small zucchini sliced
- 2 ripe avocados sliced
- 3 ounces crumbled queso fresco or añejo
- 2 tablespoons cilantro washed and roughly chopped
To a glass jar add 6 tablespoons of olive oil, vinegar, salt, and sugar and shake until combined. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil skillet over medium-high; cook zucchini until golden, 10–12 minutes. Let cool slightly and overlap on a serving platter with avocados. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with the vinaigrette; garnish with queso fresco or añejo and cilantro.
Yield: serves 6-8
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