Have you ever made a Mexican Christmas Eve Salad for the holidays? I never knew this was “a thing” until I was challenged to redo a recipe from Lea Ann at Cooking on the Ranch.
I researched the Ensalada de Nochebuena, Spanish for Christmas Eve Salad. According to Hispanic Kitchen,
Although many variations exist, three ingredients are at the core: beets, pomegranate and jicama. The root vegetable – jicama is also known as "Mexican potato," so it's an appropriate member. Beets are included for color along with pomegranate seeds sprinkled across the top. Apples, oranges, and sometimes bananas round out the list.
I took Lea Ann’s advice and made this Mexican Christmas Eve Salad recipe a chopped salad recipe. Since she felt this festive Christmas Eve salad recipe reminded her of an English trifle, I arranged it in my trifle bowl. My trifle bowl is from Pampered Chef, but Anchor Hocking makes a very attracted footed trifle bowl.
My version of Mexican Christmas Eve Salad
Lea Ann’s version of Christmas Eve salad uses pomegranate seeds, romaine lettuce, peanuts, oranges, jicama, along with red and golden beets. I’ve seen other recipes use pepitas (pumpkin seeds), apples, bananas, and pine nuts.
I kept pretty true to her recipe, but omitted the peanuts due to my daughter’s nut allergy. I’m serving the pepitas on the side, since my kids aren’t crazy about them.
We all love jicama. But if you can’t find it at your grocery store, you could substitute whole water chestnuts since they’re white and crunchy, too.
Next time I make this, I’ll put the beets on the bottom so they don’t run and spoil the look of the layer below them.
For the dressing, most recipes call for Crème Mexicana, which is Mexican sour cream. If you cannot find it in your grocery store or want to use something lighter, use nonfat Greek yogurt instead. I found Lea Ann’s version super thick, so I thinned it with rice vinegar.
Finally, I doubled Lea Ann’s recipe so the layered Mexican Christmas Eve salad would fit in my Pampered Chef trifle bowl.
How to smoke beets for Layered Mexican Christmas Eve Salad
After having smoked cauliflower at Pulaski Heights BBQ in Athens, GA, I started experimenting by smoking various vegetables from beets to kohlrabi. While you can roast beets in the oven using my method for cooking and peeling beets, I love smoking beets in my electric smoker. Here’s how:
- Set smoker to 275 degrees. Add your favorite type of wood chips. And don’t forget to add water to the drip pan!
- Coat an oven safe roasting pan with cooking spray. (Make sure your pan will fit inside your smoker.)
- Remove beet tops from beets and set aside. (Use the beet tops to make a Simple Beet Salad.)
- Wash beets. Cut into quarters and place in your roasting pan.
- Place roasting pan in your smoker and cook for 3 hours or until the beets are soft when pricked with a knife or fork.
- Remove from smoker and let cool.
- Peel skin off beats with a paring knife.
Layered Mexican Christmas Eve Salad
- 6 red beets, smoked, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 romaine heart, coarsely chopped
- 1 small jicama, peeled and roughly chopped
- 4 navel oranges, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 (5.3 ounce) containers pomegranate arils
- 1/2 cup light mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup Crème Mexicana
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 2 canned chipotle chilies, minced
- 4 tablespoons rice vinegar
- Layer ingredients in your trifle bowl in the order listed. For fun you may want to break up the romaine lettuce into two layers.
- Since beets have a tendency to run, you may want to have them as the bottom layer.
- In a small mixing bowl, combine ingredients and stir until blended.
- Serve on the side.
- Serving size: 1/6 to 1/8 of recipe
Originally posted June 10, 2013. Updated with new pictures and information.