El Torito Pepita Caesar Salad Dressing

El Torito Pepita Caesar Salad Dressing

[i]The pepita Caesar dressing, as El Torito calls it, was requested by a colleague who has failed in several attempts to re-create the recipe. Our initial tests also were unsuccessful, but we persevered and came up with an excellent copycat version that is simple to make in a blender.

The trick, we found, lies in combining low-fat buttermilk and oil. Add a little packaged dry ranch salad dressing mix, a splash of red wine vinegar, roasted and salted pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds) and a little grated Parmesan cheese. To make the dressing green, use plenty of fresh cilantro - no substitutes.

For the smoothest dressing possible, a good blender is recommended; we tried a food processor but with disappointing results.

Toss the delicious dressing with assorted greens - as the restaurant does - to make a snappy version of a Caesar salad. Sprinkle with additional pepitas for added texture.

The dressing is delicious as a dip for vegetables or as a sauce to top grilled fish or steaks.[/i]

Pepita Caesar Salad Dressing

1 tablespoon original ranch salad dressing mix (dry mix such as Hidden Valley Ranch brand)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/2 to 2/3 cup fresh cilantro, long stems cut off
2 tablespoons roasted and salted pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
1/3 cup vegetable oil

In a blender, combine all ingredients except oil. Whir or process until well blended and mixture is green. Slowly add oil through top cover of blender jar while motor is running and process until dressing is smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste, if needed. Refrigerate until well chilled.

Serve as desired over chilled greens sprinkled with additional pepitas. Makes 1 generous cup dressing.

NOTE: This dressing also makes a good dip.

Source: Restaurant Replicas column, Los Angeles Daily News, 1996