Spinach Salad with Queso Fresco, Sesame Seeds
and Tortilla Crisps

JanetFletcher 05 queso-fresco.jpg

Is your spinach salad due for a facelift? This version has lots of toasted sesame seeds, crumbled queso fresco and crunchy ribbons of fried tortilla. I had it years ago at Fonda, an Albany, California, restaurant that specializes in Latin American-inspired small plates. It’s no longer on the menu there, but it still is at my house.
From Eating Local by Janet Fletcher (Andrews McMeel).


  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce

  • 1 small clove garlic, minced to a paste or grated on a rasp grater

  • Kosher or sea salt

  • Canola oil for frying

  • 2 corn tortillas

  • Kosher or sea salt

  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds

  • 1/2 pound baby spinach

  • 3 tablespoons roasted and salted pumpkin seeds

  • 1 watermelon radish, peeled and very thinly sliced, or 1 dozen red radishes, sliced

  • ¼ pound queso fresco, finely crumbled (about 3/4 cup)

  • 1 lime, halved

To make the dressing, in a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, fish sauce, garlic and salt to taste.

Pour canola oil into a small but deep saucepan to a depth of 2 inches and heat to 375˚F. While the oil heats, cut the tortillas in half, then stack the 4 halves. With the straight edge facing you, cut the halves into 1/2-inch-wide strips. Discard the end pieces, which will be too short.

Working in small batches, add the tortilla strips to the hot oil and fry until they darken in color, 1 to 2 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain the temperature as close to 375°F as possible. Lift them out with a wire-mesh skimmer onto a double thickness of paper towels to drain. Sprinkle generously with salt while hot.

Put the sesame seeds in a small, dry skillet and toast over moderate heat, shaking the skillet frequently, until the seeds are golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Let cool.

Put the spinach in a large salad bowl. Add the sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, radishes and queso fresco and toss to mix. Add just enough dressing to coat the spinach lightly; you may not need it all. Toss well and taste. The salad will probably need a squeeze of lime juice. Add the tortilla crisps, toss gently, and serve immediately.

Serves 4