Especialidades para Navidad (1946) – Ensalada de Navidad
Velázquez de León, Josefina. Especialidades para Navidad, Fin de Año y Día de Reyes. Mexico, D.F.: Academia de Cocina, 1946. [TX739.2.C45 V45 1946]
For the first in a series of holiday-themed recipes, I chose to make Ensalada de Navidad. I found a lot of variations on this simple salad while looking for images online. Many variations included jicama and pomegranate seeds, but none of them were quite like this recipe in Josefina Velázquez de León’s charming cookbook from 1946.
25. Ensalada de Navidad
3 tallos de apio
100 grs. de nuez
1/8 de litro de aceite
150 grs. de cerezas
Un manjojo de perejil chino
75 grs. de nuez para adorner
1 cucharadita de mostaza
Vinagre, sal y pimiento.
Manera de Hacerse:
Las manzanas se pelan y se rebanan en gajos, se cortan muy delgaditas, se colocan en un traste y conforme se van cortando, se les pone jugo de limón para que no se pongan negras, se les agrega la nuez cortada a lo largo y el apio picado, la mayonesa hecha con las yemas y el aceite y la mostaza, se sazona todo con un poco de vinagre, un poco de azúcar, sal y pimiento; se va colocando en forma de volcanes en el centro de platitos de postre de forma extendida, se adornan poniéndole en la parte superior una cereza y 4 mitades de nueces a los lados. Alrededor se pone la lechuga finamente picada, sobre ésta se decora con cuatro gajos de limón a sus lados, dos ramitas de perejil y entre cada una, una cereza.
25. Christmas Salad (39)
3 stalks of celery
100 grams of pecans or walnuts
2 egg yolks
1/8 liter of oil
1 head of lettuce
150 grams of cherries
1 bunch of Chinese Parsley
75 grams of pecans or walnuts for garnish
1 teaspoon mustard
vinegar, salt & pepper
Peel the apples and slice into thin wedges. As apples are cut, place them in lemon juice so they do not turn black. Add chopped nuts and chopped celery to apples with mayonnaise made with egg yolks, oil and mustard. Season everything with a little vinegar, a little sugar, and salt and pepper. Place apples in the form of volcanoes on saucers. Adorn with a cherry on top and 4 pecan halves on the side. Place chopped lettuce around the apples and add lemon wedges, sprigs of parsley, and between each, a cherry.
In the Kitchen
This recipe leaves a lot to the imagination, so I had to make several decisions about which specific ingredients to use. The first decision was the leave out the celery. We aren’t big fans of celery at my house, and I couldn’t imagine the salad would suffer without it. I also decided to make the salad vegan. Instead of making the mayonnaise from scratch as the recipe suggests, I used Vegenaise, a tasty vegan mayonnaise made from soy that tastes very much like real mayonnaise. I used Granny Smith apples since the recipe did not specify, and I decided to use roasted, salted peanuts instead of pecans or walnuts because I had seen a few Ensalda de Navidad recipes online that used peanuts. I also chose Romaine lettuce over iceburg lettuce and chose apple cider vinegar because I already had some on hand.
Once I peeled and sliced the apples and soaked them in lemon juice, I had to take some liberties with the mayonnaise dressing, as the recipe instructions were not exactly precise. I started out with 2 tablespoons of Vegenaise, 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon of sugar, and one tablespoon of Dijon mustard. I whisked it all together, tasted it, and decided it needed a little more sugar, so I added a pinch or two. I poured the dressing over the apples, and realized it could use some more, so I made a second batch of dressing using the same measurements. After dressing the apples, I put a few pinches of salt and pepper and mixed it well.
Next, I had to figure out the “volcano” presentation. None of the images I found online resembled anything volcano-like, so I scrapped that idea and came up with my own presentation. First, I shredded the Romaine (removing the center stalk in the process) and placed it on a platter. I then sprinkled the lettuce with chopped roasted, salted peanuts. I placed the dressed apples on top, and the sprinkled more peanuts on top of the apples. I topped it all off with a few cherries, and garnished it with parsley sprigs and lemon wedges.
I will admit, throughout this whole process I was very skeptical of this salad. I had sampled the apples with the dressing and it just didn’t taste that great. I was hoping that the combination of the lettuce, peanuts, and dressed apples would come together magically– the sum tasting better than the parts.
In a bold move, I took the salad to a dinner party and hoped for the best.
To my surprise, it worked! The flavors came together beautifully to produce a light, refreshing salad. The peanuts were a great addition, giving the salad a savory crunch. Everyone at the dinner party loved the salad; in fact they went back for seconds.
Would I make it again? I think so. It was definitely a fun thing to take to a dinner party. It was a great topic of conversation and tasty to boot!