Soups & Salads/

Avocado-Mango Salad with Fresh (or Blue) Cheese, Bacon and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Ensalada de Aguacate y Mango con Queso Fresco, Tocino y Pepitas Tostadas
From the Mexican mind-set, both buttery avocado and tropical mango derive beautiful benefit from chile, salt and lime, all three of which form a foundation for this salad’s dressing, along with sautéed garlic’s savory aroma and honey’s mellowness. Add the crunch of toasted pumpkinseeds, the tenderness of Boston lettuce and the savory saltiness of crisp bacon and fresh Mexican cheese, and you have a compelling salad. It’s the least substantial of my main course salads—perfect for hot-weather appetites. Also, feel free to scale down the size of the portions so you can use this delicia as the first course for a special dinner. Or serve the large portions with grilled chicken breasts for a more substantial meal.
Servings: 4


  • 4slices bacon
  • 1/2cuphulled pumpkin (pepita) seeds
  • 1/2cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/3cup vegetable or olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • Fresh hot green chile to taste (I like a large serrano or a small jalapeno), stemmed (optional)
  • 1tablespoon honey
  • Salt
  • 1 large head Boston/butterhead lettuce (or an equivalent amount of Bibb lettuce), leaves separated
  • 2largeripe avocados
  • 2 ripe mangoes
  • A generous3/4 cup coarsely crumbled Mexican queso fresco or mild blue cheese (Gorgonzola is great)


Arrange the bacon slices between a double layer of paper towels on a microwavable plate. Microwave on high for 2 ½ to 3 ½ minutes, until crispy.             

Pour the pumpkinseeds into a small skillet and set over medium heat. Once the first one pops, stir constantly until all have popped from flat to round, about 5 minutes. Scoop about 1/3 of them into a blender jar and add the lime juice.  Pour the remainder into a small dish.

Return the skillet to medium heat and measure in the oil. Add the garlic and optional chile. Cook, stirring regularly, until the garlic is soft and lightly browned, about 5 minutes.  Scrape the oil and garlic into the blender or food processor.  Add the honey and ½ teaspoon salt.  Process until smooth.  Taste and season with more salt if you think necessary.  (It should be highly seasoned.)

            Divide the lettuce between 4 dinner plates.  Pit and the avocados, scoop flesh from the skin and cut it into slices.  Peel the mango, then cut the flesh from the pit.  Slice to match the avocado pieces.  Arrange the avocado and mango in the center of the lettuce.  Drizzle everything with the dressing, then sprinkle with the cheese and toasted pumpkinseeds.  Crumble the bacon and strew it over the top, and the salad is ready.

A Few Simple Riffs:  Bacon can be replaced with flaked hot-smoked salmon, eel, trout or other fish. Leave out the bacon to make the salad vegetarian, or replace it with pan-grilled onion slices.  The pumpkinseeds can be replaced with pinenuts (they toast—and burn—much faster than the pumpkinseeds). The luscious texture of mango works well with avocado, but so would ripe peach or nectarine.  The green chile could be replaced by hot ground red chile (like árbol)—sprinkle it over the salad rather than blending it with the dressing. Crumbled goat cheese is a good stand-in for Mexican queso fresco.

Over-the-Top Crab-Avocado-Mango Salad:  Sprinkle a generous portion of crab over the avocado and mango before drizzling with dressing.



  1. This salad seems to offer everything one needs to make something wonderful and so I am keen to try – except there is no mention of quantity for the pepitas. This doesn’t bother me when determining how much to sprinkle on the salad but i feel a bit stumped about the amount appropriate for the blended dressing. Is there any help for me?

    1. Pepitas Dressing: I ended up using one single serve small package of Eden’s Pocket Snacks Spicy Pumpkin Dry Roasted Seeds. (organic/low sodium, 1 oz). 1/3 of the pkg mixed in processor with the 2 garlic, olive oil, honey, lime juice, salt. even though not the full qty of seeds called for in the recipe the flavor was really robust in the dressing & no need to cook. And the rest of the package sprinkled over the salad. Made enough to serve 12 for a total Rick Bayless-focused potluck dinner! Rave reviews. And, beautiful too.
      My salad ended up being a riff version using what I had in the cupboard : Avocado-Peach Bibb Salad with Goat Cheese, Bacon bits and Spicy Pumpkin Seeds

    1. Hi Mike,
      Guacamole should be made right before your party. The main answer is temperature. Keep your avocados cold until ready to make guacamole and keep your guacamole cold and covered with plastic wrap directly over the surface until ready to serve. Another option is to place it on your buffet in a bowl set over crushed ice.

  2. Hello! making this for a party tonight. I’ll wing it…but wondering about the measurement of the pumpkin seed? And with the pepper, is it just seasoning the oil? I’m assuming that doesn’t all go in the dressing?
    Thanks–wonderful recipes!!

  3. I think I am going to OD on this salad! I’ve eaten it more times than I can count in the past two weeks, its outstanding!!

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