Mexican Salad – A Feast!

My love affair with this salad began 30 years ago at Michigan State University at a great Mexican restaurant, “El Azteco”, that remains an institution there.  Called a Topopo Salad (Topopo means “Volcano”), it has often been described as a Mexican chicken salad on steriods.  One look at it and you’ll understand.

It starts with a base of refried beans and then moves on to melted cheese, then guacamole.  The salad is a combination of shredded iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, green onion, jalapenos, shredded chicken and green peas and it’s dressed with a light vinaigrette and topped with Parmesan cheese.  At least I think it is and that’s how I’ve created our home version of it.  And I’m pretty sure that this will fast become a favorite of your home too!

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  1. As an alumnus of MSU (1981) I am interested to hear that El Azteco is still open. I have many fond memories of eating at both EL locations as well as one near downtown Lansing.

  2. Carole Forman says:

    After rereading the recipe I had to laugh. You said 4 cups of shredded chicken. Well at El Az you are lucky to find, maybe three pieces!! LOL!

  3. Carole Forman says:

    I got a kick out of reading about Topopo and “El Azteco”. Both are alive and kicking. I graduated from MSU and ended up getting married and moving back to EL. El Az, as we refer to it, used to be housed in a basement on Mac which was really the pits, but I do remember the long lines going down the stairs waiting to get in. They have since moved to a new location on Ann St., which is quite a bit better, not great but better. I remember when the salad used to be something like $5, and you HAVE to share it as it is huge, now up to $12…still quite a bargain and every bit as good. Plus their Margaritas as wonderful! I hate to say it, but when we go there those are the only two things I ever order! I once asked for the recipe, and the server got a piece of paper and wrote it down for me…have to find it and compare it to yours. I really have never made it as it’s so easy and inexpensive to just go there.

  4. I asked my husband if he knew this restaurant, but he’s been away from Michigan way too long….

    at any rate, he did ask me to make this salad, and I made it last week, awesome! Unfortunately, my photos did not turn out good at all (had a problem with the auto-focus thingie and did not realize until too late) – so no blog will come out of it, but what matters is that it tasted great!

    thanks for the inspiration!

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