Every year around this time, I try to post recipes that are traditional for the Christmas dinner. Some are known all over Mexico, and others, like this Christmas Apple Salad, are better known in the central states of Mexico. I know you must be thinking that it looks a lot like a Waldorf salad, and indeed it does. Somehow, this salad was adopted into our culture early on and even appears in Christmas recipe books from the 1940’s as Christmas salad. It has gone through many changes since then; it used to be made with a homemade mayonnaise, and served over lettuce leaves, but nowadays it looks more like a dessert than a simple salad. Today’s cooks add canned pineapple chucks, shredded coconut, mini marshmallows, and instead of mayonnaise, sweet cream is added.
Christmas in Mexico is full of color, music, and of course, great food. Christmas tree ornaments, poinsettias, piñatas, candles and candies bring a joyful feeling to everyone across the country. Our celebrations begin since December 16th, when the “Posadas” start. Posadas are processions of people carrying the Nativity scenes, representing Mary and Joseph's journey to Bethlehem. During those 9 days, they will go from house to house asking for lodging. Posadas means “Inn” or “lodging”. When all the friends and relatives carrying the nativity arrive at the house where it will rest for the night, they will have a party, and break the traditional piñata. A bigger celebration is done the evening of the 24th. Some of the traditional foods served in these parties are: Pozole, Tamales, Buñuelos, Atoles, Mexican Christmas Punch, Champurrado, just to name a few.
MAKES 4 ½ CUPS
- ½ lime juice or 2 tsps. of lime juice
- 1 Pound red apples (About 2 large apples)
- 2/3 cup celery, finely chopped
- 2/3 cups raisins
- 2/3 cups pecans, chopped
- ½ cup Mexican cream or sour cream
- 2 Tbsp. Mayonnaise
- 8 Cherries for garnish
- 6 Curly parsley sprigs for garnish
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- This is my personal version, trying to stay close to the earlier recipes for this salad, but if you want you can add diced pineapple, more cherries, shredded coconut and marshmallows. If you add these last fruits, skip seasoning with pepper.
- I like to peel the apples, but it should have the skins on. It gives a nice color to the salad. If you love sweet salads, you will enjoy this one too.
1. In a large bowl, pour 1 cup of water and the lime juice and stir.
2. Dice the apples. As you're dicing the apples, place them in the bowl with the lime-water to keep them from becoming brown. Once you finish dicing the apples, make sure to toss them well with the lime-water and then drain the water.
3. Place diced apples, chopped celery, raisins and pecans in a large bowl and mix well.
4. In a small bowl, mix the cream with the mayonnaise. (If you want to add the diced pineapple, shredded coconut, and small marshmallows, do so in this step.) Pour over the chopped fruit and stir, season with salt and pepper*.
5. You can either serve it on small plates over small lettuce leaves or in small glass cups, garnished with cherries and the curly parsley sprigs.
Provecho y Felíz Navidad!