Mexican Poblano and Tomato Salad

Mexican Cotija cheese isn't for sale at New York's fancy cheese emporiums, but you can find it in some corner bodegas. If your hunt for authentic cheese is successful, here's a recipe for a Mexican salad for you. It ran many years ago - in the LA Times, of course.

Mexican Poblano and Tomato Salad

4 poblano chiles
2 tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried Mexican oregano, crumbled
3 tbsp. chopped cilantro
3 tbsp. lime juice
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 head butter lettuce
1/4 cup crumbled Cotija cheese
wedges of lime dipped in chile powder, for garnish

Roast the chiles on a gas burner or grill until charred all over. Place them in a Ziplock bag and close. Let them stand until cool, then slough off the charred skin. Core and seed them, then cut lengthwise into thin strips.

Toss the chiles with tomatoes, onion, garlic, oregano, cilantro, lime juice, and salt. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes. Arrange butter lettuce on four salad plates, top with pepper mixture, and sprinkle with Cotija cheese. Serve with lime wedges.

Serves 4.

Variation: If you can find requesón cheese, try substituting it for Cotija. Combine a 1/2 cup of requesón with the chili mixture, and instead of letting it all sit, heat it gently on the stove for about 5 minutes, until warmed through. Serve on top of cool butter lettuce, garnish with limes. Think of it as a salad version of La Superior's rajas.