Fruit and arugula help bring out the best in chili Side: A cold accompaniment goes with a winter standby.

January 14, 1998|By Betty Rosbottom | Betty Rosbottom,LOS ANGELES TIMES SYNDICATE

If there is one dish that I make more than any other during winter, it's chili. I've cooked traditional chili with ground beef as well as all manner of variations in which the customary meat has been replaced with ground turkey or with chunks of chicken. I've served chili for family meals with as much pleasure as I've offered it to company.

And, along with all the different versions of this American classic, I've tried countless breads and salads as accompaniments. Corn bread baked with pepper jack cheese, crispy baked tortilla strips, spinach salad with orange and jicama, and mixed greens with grapefruit and red peppers in a cumin dressing are just some of the offerings served alongside bowls of chili at our house.

A few days ago, after preparing a huge pot of turkey chili, I was in the market shopping for ingredients for a salad to go with it. I picked up a bunch of arugula, an avocado, a mango, a red onion and some oranges and began to devise a side dish for that evening's supper.

I made a dressing with red wine vinegar, orange zest and juice, and olive oil. I peeled and cubed the avocado and mango, cut thin slices from the onion, and tossed them in the dressing along with arugula leaves. After arranging the mixture on individual salad plates, I garnished each serving with some toasted pumpkin seeds and a sprinkle of orange zest.

My husband and I both loved this delicious accompaniment to our chili. The clean, refreshing taste of orange combined with the peppery arugula made a perfect counterpoint to the spicy chili. I can't wait to repeat this simple chili menu on another cold winter night.

Avocado, Mango and Arugula Salad in an Orange Vinaigrette

Makes 6 servings


4 teaspoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon grated orange zest

2 teaspoons orange juice

1/8 teaspoon salt, plus more if needed

5 tablespoons olive oil


1 ripe avocado (see note)

1 ripe mango

1/2 cup very thinly sliced sweet red onions

6 cups (packed) cleaned and stemmed arugula leaves

2 generous tablespoons roasted and salted pumpkin seeds (see note)

1 teaspoon grated orange zest

To prepare dressing, place vinegar, orange zest, orange juice and salt in small, nonreactive mixing bowl. Whisk mixture to combine well. Continue whisking constantly while slowly drizzling in olive oil. (Dressing can be made a day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Whisk well before using.)

To prepare salad, peel and remove pit from avocado. Cut avocado into 1/2-inch cubes and set aside. Peel mango and cut flesh from pit. Cut flesh into 1/2-inch cubes and set aside.

Place half the salad dressing in large mixing bowl and add avocado, mango and onions. Toss well. Add arugula and remaining dressing and toss again. Taste and, if desired, season lightly with more salt.

To serve, divide salad among 6 salad plates. Garnish each serving with 1 teaspoon pumpkin seeds and sprinkling of orange zest. Serve immediately.

Notes: Haas avocados (the ones with the rough, pebbly skins) are the best in this recipe.

Roasted and salted pumpkin seeds are available in some supermarkets and in health-food stores.

Pub Date: 1/14/98

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