This is served at Veronica Salazar’s El Huarache Loco restaurant in Marin County, Calif., and was inspired by the vegetable salads her mother, Dona Luz, used to make when Salazar was growing up. Before she opened her restaurant, Salazar was one of the first to rent commercial space from La Cocina, a nonprofit incubator that supports working-class food entrepreneurs — mostly immigrant women and women of color — in the San Francisco Bay area.

MAKE AHEAD: The dressing can be refrigerated for up to 1 week in advance.


  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from 1 or 2 limes)
  • 2 teaspoons grated piloncillo (sugar; may substitute dark brown sugar
  • 1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1/3 cup mild extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup hulled, unsalted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • 8 ounces small potatoes, preferably red or purple, or a combination of colors, scrubbed well
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, rinsed well and cut into 2-inch squares
  • 2 large handfuls (2 cups) fresh watercress
  • 1/2 cup packed cilantro leaves
  • 8 to 10 grape tomatoes, each cut in half
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Flesh of 1 ripe avocado, cut lengthwise into quarters
  • 1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco

Step 1

For the dressing: Whisk together the lime juice and sugar until the latter has dissolved. Add the jalapeño, then gradually drizzle in the oil, whisking, to form an emulsified vinaigrette. (Or you can combine all those ingredients in a small jar, seal and shake until well blended.)

Step 2

For the salad: Toast the pumpkin seeds in a small, dry skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until fragrant and lightly browned, shaking the pan to avoid scorching. Cool completely.

Step 3

Place the potatoes in a pot and cover with cool water. Bring to a boil over high heat, add the teaspoon of salt and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until the potatoes are tender enough to pierce easily with the tip of a knife. Drain.

Step 4

When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them into halves or quarters. Transfer to a mixing bowl, along with the lettuce, watercress, cilantro and tomatoes (to taste). Pour in the dressing and toss to coat evenly. Taste, and season with more salt and the pepper, as needed.

Step 5

Divide among individual plates. Top each portion with an avocado wedge, if using, and the crumbled queso fresco. Drizzle more dressing over each portion, as needed.

Adapted from “We Are La Cocina: Recipes in Pursuit of the American Dream,” by Caleb Zigas and Leticia Landa (Chronicle, 2019).

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick; email questions to

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Calories: 430; Total Fat: 35 g; Saturated Fat: 6 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 320 mg; Carbohydrates: 28 g; Dietary Fiber: 10 g; Sugars: 9 g; Protein: 10 g.