It is a staple of every lunch in Chile. Chilean salads are meant to be served family style and eaten with the main dishes. They often provide the necessary contrast in flavor and texture to enjoy Chilean food thoroughly.
Chilean cuisine incorporates a variety of salads, and while vegetables are an essential part of Chilean meals, the approach to salads may differ from what you find in other cuisines.
Chilean salads typically prioritize fresh and locally sourced ingredients, especially in regions with a strong agricultural tradition.
Many Chilean meals, whether at home or in restaurants, include a salad as a side dish, providing a refreshing contrast to the often hearty and carb-centric main courses. Additionally, simple yet flavorful dressings allow the natural taste of the vegetables to shine through.
Some popular Chilean salads:
- Ensalada Chilena is perhaps the most classic Chilean salad integral to many Chilean meals. It’s straightforward: thinly sliced onions, tomatoes, and cilantro, all marinated in a dressing made from vegetable oil, vinegar, salt, and sometimes a pinch of pepper. This salad showcases the freshness of the vegetables and is often served as a side dish or a topping for other dishes, such as Porotos (stewed beans).
- Palta Reina: Avocado, known as “palta” in Chile, is a beloved ingredient often used in salads. Palta Reina is a salad made from ripe avocado halves filled with a mixture of mayonnaise and either canned tuna, chicken, shrimp, or ham. It’s typically garnished with lettuce and hard-boiled eggs and is served as an appetizer or light meal.
- Ensalada de Choclo: Corn is another staple ingredient in Chilean cuisine. Ensalada de Choclo is a salad made from corn kernels mixed with diced tomatoes, diced onions, and sometimes red bell peppers. It’s dressed with mayonnaise and is a popular side dish, especially during summer.
- Pebre: While not a traditional salad in the sense of leafy greens, Pebre is a spicy salsa or condiment made with tomatoes, onions, and cilantro. It’s often served as a topping for grilled meats or alongside traditional Chilean dishes like empanadas.
Some other favorites are Apio Palta (celery and avocado), Repollo con zanahoria (Cabbage and carrots), and Ensalada Rusa.