Rick Cooks Home Salpicón (Chilean Leftovers Salad)

Many Americans (including my mother) have said that this is their favorite Chilean dish. Perhaps it's because it uses whatever is left over in the refrigerator from today's lunch sprinkled over a bed of fresh salad greens and served for supper. No cooking, no run to the market, no recipe even. (Salpicón comes from the Spanish word salpicar, which means to scatter over.)

There is no recipe for salpicón. If there were, it would be just another salad, not salpicón. Therefore, no two salpicóns are alike -- it all depends on what you had for lunch. In fact, you don't even need salad greens if you don't have them, as long as you have some cooked vegetables lying about.

If you have leftovers from an asado (Chilean barbecue), you're halfway there. From then on, anything goes: cooked pasta, cooked potatoes or potato salad, grilled or cooked vegetables, cooked beans, hard-cooked eggs, corn, and just about anything savory in a jar, such as olives, red peppers, capers, etc. If you have fresh scallions and/or salad greens or lettuce, even better.

Everything but the salad greens should be marinated for a while in aliño. Aliño is the traditional Chilean salad dressing, which is a simple vinaigrette, except that the acid is usually lemon juice, but may be vinegar.

Salpicón may be served chilled, but not too cold, or the flavors will be lost. The aliño should be room temperature.

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Salpicón I

*Serves 4 to 6*

leftover grilled beef, beef, pork, or lamb cut into bite-sized pieces leftover pasta, potato salad, cooked beans, or cooked carrots hard-cooked eggs
olives, capers, or roasted red peppers
grilled eggplant or zucchini
chopped scallions
ají, chopped
lettuce or salad greens

Emulsify 3 parts extra-virgin olive oil with 1 part lemon juice or vinegar. Add chopped cilantro or Italian parsley. Season with salt and pepper.

Mix any or all of the above ingredients except salad greens together in a wood or glass salad bowl. Add aliño, toss, and allow to marinate for 30 minutes. Add salad greens, toss, and serve.

Salpicón II

*Serves 4 to 6*

2 medium potatoes, unpeeled
1 large carrot, unpeeled
Salt, to taste
½ c fresh or frozen green peas
½ c fresh or frozen corn kernels
½ c fresh or frozen green beans, cut into ¼-inch pieces, optional 2 hard-cooked eggs, cubed
2 cups cooked poultry, beef, pork or lamb or cooked shellfish, cut into ¼-inch cubes
¼ c whole ripe olives 1 scallion, chopped
1 head Boston lettuce, finely shredded
1 ripe avocado, cut into ¼-inch cubes, optional
1 ripe tomato, peeled, seeded, and diced, optional
½ c vegetable or extra-virgin olive oil
3 T freshly squeezed lemon juice or white wine vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 T finely minced fresh parsley or cilantro.

Place the potatoes and carrot in a medium saucepan; cover with cold water, and add salt. Bring to a boll, reduce the heat, and simmer partly covered until tender, 20 to 25 minutes Drain, and let cool. Peel the vegetables, and cut into a ¼-inch dice.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boll. Add the peas, corn, and green beans, and cook uncovered until crisp-tender, 10 minutes. Drain and refresh under cold running water.

In a large bowl, combine the cooked vegetables with the eggs, meat, olives, scallion, lettuce, avocado, and tomato. Add the oil, lemon juice, salt, and black pepper. Toss to combine. Sprinkle with the fresh parsley, and serve at once.