2000s Recipes + Menus

Watercress Salad with Cotija Cheese and Fried Tortillas

  • Active time:30 min
  • Start to finish:30 min
October 2002
If you can't get cotija cheese, you can substitute feta—it's stronger in flavor and a bit saltier than cotija, but it works fine. Archibald also makes a version of this salad topped with shavings of Manchego cheese.
  • 2 to 3 cups vegetable oil for frying
  • 4 (6- to 7-inch) corn tortillas, halved and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips
  • 1 tablespoon Sherry vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lb watercress, coarse stems discarded
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes (preferably heirloom), halved
  • 4 oz cotija cheese (also called añejo), crumbled (1 cup)
  • Special Equipment:

    a deep-fat thermometer
  • Heat 1 inch of vegetable oil in a 10- to 12-inch heavy skillet until thermometer registers 350ºF, then fry tortilla strips, a handful at a time, until golden, 30 to 45 seconds. Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain and season with salt.
  • Whisk together vinegar, salt, and pepper in a small bowl, then add olive oil in a stream, whisking until combined well.
  • Toss watercress with dressing in a large bowl and divide among 8 plates. Divide tomatoes and tortilla strips among salads, tucking strips into greens decoratively, and sprinkle salads with cheese.
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