Criolla Salad (Ensalada Criolla) Bruschetta

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Criolla Salad (Ensalada Criolla) Bruschetta

It is fascinating to discover that many of the dishes we think are originally from our countries are also consumed by many other people, typically with a twist or a new ingredient we are not familiar with. The criolla salad (as we call it in Argentina) is actually popular in several Latin American countries, a side dish that transcends borders.

In Argentina this salad is made of onion, tomato and red bell pepper. These three ingredients are simply cut into small cubes and seasoned with apple cider vinegar and olive oil. Used as an accompaniment for different types of meats,salsa criolla may change an occasional ingredient depending on the country, but its soul is always similar.

The criolla salad is served in restaurants with chimichurri sauce and any cut of meat straight from the grill. These two sauces are two classic treasures of Argentinean cuisine.  In Chile, a similar sauce is called pebre. It is made of coriander, chopped onion, olive oil, garlic and ground or pureed spicy bell peppers.  In Brazil, this sauce is calledvinagrete, and consists of tomato, chopped onion, olive oil, vinegar, salt, and bell pepper. In Mexico, probably the most famous of all variants, it is called pico de gallo and contains onions, tomatoes, bell pepper, jalapeno or serrano, garlic, cilantro, olive oil, lime juice, salt and pepper.

What I love the most about this salad is that while it is super easy to prepare, it is very colorful, presents well, is inexpensive in terms of ingredient costs, and very healthy. It can be served as both an appetizer (with a piece of toast) or as an accompaniment to any red meat, chicken or fish. Of course, in addition to being delicious, this recipe symbolizes something very special to me. This salad reminds me of many wonderful moments of my childhood.

It’s amazing how a simple recipe can bring moments from the past through subtle sensations. They are the same exact smells and tastes with which I used to enjoy every Sunday with family and friends. I think this is the main reason why I love to replicate and share these traditional dishes, originally passed to me by my mother and grandmother (herself an immigrant from Europe!).



4 medium tomatoes, seedless

1 large red pepper

½ medium Spanish onion

The vinaigrette

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 ½ apple cider tablespoon vinegar or wine vinegar

1 whole clove garlic, crushed

Salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)


1. Wash vegetables

2. Cut the tomatoes, the red pepper and the onion into small cubes

3. Combine vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper and let infuse for a few seconds

4. Add the olive oil slowly

5. Taste and adjust seasoning

6. Let it sit for a while in the fridge (at least 1 hour). The flavor will be much richer!



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