May 3

Avocado, Tomato & Cotija Cheese Salad Recipe for Cinco de Mayo


Avocado, Tomato & Cotija Cheese Salad Recipe for Cinco de Mayo

It is hard not to start salivating when the words Cinco de Mayo (literal translation “Fifth of May”) are mentioned. I mean, really, you just can’t beat a celebration that involves margaritas and pounds of guacamole made from perfectly ripe avocados. Of course, this holiday is not just about food. It is commonly, and incorrectly, thought that Cinco de Mayo is Mexico’s Independence Day. However, it is the commemoration of the victory of the Mexican militia over French forces in 1862 at the Battle of Puebla. Store that little gem away for your next game of Trivial Pursuit (serving the opposing team an extra pitcher of margaritas might not hurt either).

If you are going to be indulging in dishes laden with melted cheese and rich mole sauces, it would be prudent to serve something on the lighter side to provide some balance in the meal. This salad is not a traditional Mexican dish, but uses some flavors reminiscent of the cuisine. In fact, this vegetable dish could be seen as a spin-off of a Greek salad. Ripe avocados are paired with tomatoes, cucumber and crumbled cotija cheese, then gently tossed with a light dressing of honey, lime juice and cilantro.

This past weekend, I attended Camp Blogaway, set in the mountains near beautiful Big Bear, California. It was a wonderful opportunity to connect with fellow food bloggers, pick up some useful information from the multiple workshops and enjoy the crisp mountain air.

Camp Blogaway 2011

During one of the sponsor presentations, Jan DeLyser of the California Avocado Commission drove home the importance of buying avocados that are grown close to home. Considering that 90 percent of the United States avocado crop is produced in California, these are the avocados that are most likely to be found in your local market. The advantage to buying fruits grown in the United States is the shorter travel time, which translates to avocados that are less likely to be stringy. This salad was made using some perfectly rip avocados I brought home with me from Camp Blogaway.

The dressing:
In a small bowl, whisk together fresh lime juice, honey and salt. While whisking constantly, slowly pour in the olive oil until combined. Stir in cilantro and minced jalapeno.


The salad:
In a medium bowl, gentle toss together tomato, cucumber, avocado and cotija cheese.


Pour in dressing a little bit at a time, tossing to combine and tasting to determine the amount of desired dressing. Serve.


Other recipes for Cinco de Mayo:

Cookin’ Canuck’s Roasted Tomatillo Shrimp Tacos with Honey-Lime Slaw
Cookin’ Canuck Rick Bayless’ Smoky Peanut Mole with Pork Tenderloin
White on Rice Couple’s Meyer Lemon Margarita
What’s Gaby Cooking’s Cumin & Charred Corn Guacamole
Homesick Texan’s Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas
Two Peas and Their Pod’s Avocado Ice Cream

Avocado, Tomato & Cotija Cheese Salad

2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 1/2 tsp honey
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp minced fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp minced jalapeno pepper

3 cups chopped (1-inch pieces) English cucumber
2 cups chopped (1-inch pieces) tomato
2 large avocados, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/3 cup crumbled Cotija cheese

In a small bowl, whisk together fresh lime juice, honey and salt. While whisking constantly, slowly pour in the olive oil until combined. Stir in cilantro and minced jalapeno.

In a medium bowl, gentle toss together tomato, cucumber, avocado and cotija cheese. Pour in dressing a little bit at a time, tossing to combine and tasting to determine the amount of desired dressing. Serve.

Serves 4 to 6.

Printable recipe

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{ 57 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Heather (Heather's Dish) May 3, 2011 at 11:07 pm

ah, cheese and avocado…match made in heaven! long live cinco de mayo!


2 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) May 4, 2011 at 6:02 pm

I agree – it doesn’t get much better than cheese and avocado.


3 stephanie May 3, 2011 at 11:44 pm

Happy Cinco De Mayo! I love all these ingredients. Yum!


4 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) May 4, 2011 at 6:02 pm

Thank you, Stephanie.


5 Kathy - Panini Happy May 3, 2011 at 11:59 pm

This sounds just wonderful. I threw together an impromptu avocado and tomato salad a few nights ago – would have been even better with some cotija cheese. :-)


6 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) May 4, 2011 at 6:02 pm

That’s the great thing about a salad like this – almost all of the ingredients are staples, so the salad comes together quickly and with little effort.


7 claudia lamascolo/aka pegasuslegend May 4, 2011 at 5:00 am

Looks like so much fun, I love avocado anything so this is a must try when I go get these ingredients I am going to love it!


8 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) May 4, 2011 at 6:03 pm

Avocados are a favorite in our household, too. I’d be happy to eat one plain.


9 Mimi from California Avocados Direct May 4, 2011 at 7:22 am

Thank you for this beautiful salad! We’re always looking for creative salad ideas that include avocados since we raise them on our family farm in So. California. There’s nothing like getting an avocado right from the tree and letting it ripen in your own kitchen. For more information, video and recipes about our farm, visit us online.


10 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) May 4, 2011 at 6:04 pm

Thank you, Mimi. Living in Utah I don’t have the opportunity to pick avocados directly from a tree, but am grateful for the ones I find at the market.


11 Pretend Chef May 4, 2011 at 7:25 am

Avocado… enough said! I am sold on any recipe with avocado in it. This sounds amazing and a recipe I’d love to try. Yummy!


12 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) May 4, 2011 at 6:04 pm

LOL. I have the same feeling about avocados.


13 Jules May 4, 2011 at 8:48 am

Looks delish! Have to go out shopping today so printing out recipe to take to with me. Thanks for another wonderful recipe! :-)


14 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) May 4, 2011 at 6:04 pm

Thanks, Jules. I hope you enjoy it.


15 briarrose May 4, 2011 at 8:51 am

Oooo….this makes me wish I hadn’t just used up my avocados last night. Beautiful, fresh salad.


16 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) May 4, 2011 at 6:05 pm

Well, luckily there are plenty more avocados waiting in the stores in preparation for Cinco de Mayo.


17 yeni May 4, 2011 at 9:22 am

what a refreshing and light salad. i love cotija cheese! i agree this would be a great complement to a filling mexican meal, or served with chips like in your photo. thanks for sharing!


18 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) May 4, 2011 at 6:05 pm

I think next time I’ll scoop this up with tortilla chips.


19 The Lucky Wife May 4, 2011 at 10:50 am

This sounds delicious. I really want some ideas for avocado… so healthy but not a favorite of mine. I’m thinking with other ingredients like these, though, I’d like it.

Gave you an award today… stop by to check it out when you can!


20 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) May 4, 2011 at 6:07 pm

Thank you. The taste of the avocado melds nicely with the dressing and other veggies. Give it a try!


21 Lana @ Never Enough Thyme May 4, 2011 at 11:18 am

Just the perfect salad to go with my Cinco de Mayo dinner! I love every single ingredient in this and imagine that the combination of them is heavenly. Thanks for a great recipe, Dara!


22 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) May 4, 2011 at 6:07 pm

Thanks so much, Lana. I’d imagine you have a wonderful Cinco de Mayo meal planned.


23 Katrina May 4, 2011 at 1:10 pm

Love this salad! It looks so healthy and tasty. Yum.


24 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) May 4, 2011 at 6:07 pm

Thank you, Katrina.


25 JENNA May 4, 2011 at 1:46 pm

this salad looks so light and refreshing! a perfect spring/summer side dish, snack or light lunch!


26 Nancy@acommunaltable May 4, 2011 at 2:04 pm

Perfect Cinco de Mayo fare!! This would be wonderful scooped onto some tortilla chips and chased with a tall, cold mexican beer (can you tell I haven’t had lunch yet??)
Gorgeous photos as always!!


27 Marla May 4, 2011 at 4:58 pm

Funny you say “a spin-off” of a Greek salad. That is the first thing I thought. Lovely fresh ingredients & colors. Perhaps some of my random Avocado Scones for dessert 😉 xo


28 Kalynskitchen May 4, 2011 at 5:16 pm

It looks fantastic, and perfect for Cinco de Mayo!


29 Drick May 4, 2011 at 7:11 pm

ya know, anything with avocado is just good eating, we pretty much get only calif haas ones down here, but I did remember getting a gwen variety once that was exceptional, of course, there is a Floridan grown avocado I believe that is much larger and to me, more pulpier, not as tasty… this is a exceptional salad Dara, one that I like a lot, and you know how much I adore my Mexican foods


30 Maris (In Good Taste) May 4, 2011 at 7:33 pm

I am a huge fan of avocados and this looks like the perfect salad for them.


31 Heather @ Multiply Delicious May 4, 2011 at 8:28 pm

You had me at avocado! What a beautiful salad and perfect for tomorrow’s Cinco de Mayo celebrations….or for any celebration! Thanks for another wonderful recipe.


32 Megan May 4, 2011 at 9:16 pm

Ive never tried cotija cheese. Well, maybe at a restaurant and didn’t really know what it was. This salad looks so fresh and tasty. Now if I could only get some perfect avocados.


33 Barbara Bakes May 4, 2011 at 10:05 pm

A perfect side dish to any Cinco de Mayo meal.


34 Jessica May 5, 2011 at 1:32 am

This looks delicious Dara! I love the combination of flavors. It sounds like the perfect addition to my Cinco De Mayo plans! But then again…there is always room for anything that includes some Cotija cheese! 😉


35 Kelsey/TheNaptimeChef May 5, 2011 at 5:35 am

This looks amazing Dara, I love all the flavors. I agree, hard to temper all that good melty cheese stuff!! :)


36 Mary @ Mary's Nest May 5, 2011 at 6:24 am

This looks lucious. And perfect fare to make here in Texas!

Thanks for sharing your recipe…and the fantastic photos too. Just beautiful.




37 Lindsey @ Gingerbread Bagels May 5, 2011 at 8:24 am

What a gorgeous salad. Love the combination of flavors. My mama would especially love this! I’ll have to make it for her. :)


38 HeatherChristo May 5, 2011 at 8:43 am

It is like Mexican Greek Salad! I love it!!


39 bellini May 5, 2011 at 9:01 am

It sounds like a wonderful weekend and then there is the salad!


40 d.liff @ yelleBELLYboo May 5, 2011 at 9:32 am

I have been eating too much while traveling the last week – this looks like such a light dinner I MUST make it! Thanks!


41 Heather at FarmgirlGourmet May 5, 2011 at 9:36 am

Wow. That’s all I can say! WOW! Oh and YUM! Looks great Dara!!


42 Geni May 5, 2011 at 10:26 am

Fresh and delicious looking salad! I love enjoying salads with crunchy veggies, smooth cheese and a tangy dressing in the summer. I cannot wait to try this as the weather warms up!


43 Christine May 5, 2011 at 12:56 pm

Sounds wonderful! I do love a good tomato salad. Will have to try this. Thanks for sharing!


44 Belinda @zomppa May 5, 2011 at 1:23 pm

What a great fun gathering!! This salad is beautiful and photos are stunning.


45 Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) May 5, 2011 at 2:49 pm

Dara this looks awesome!
I have been on a huge avo kick with avo recipes this week and yours looks stellar.

I am KICKING myself that i didnt go to Camp Blogaway. Next year, next year :)

Marla decided to go last minute and I wish I coulda joined her and met you,too!


46 Megan May 5, 2011 at 4:48 pm

I’ve never heard of cotija cheese, but anything with avocado in it must go in my recipe book! This looks great!


47 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) May 5, 2011 at 8:49 pm

Thanks, Megan. Cotija cheese is a Mexican cheese that has a similar taste as feta cheese. If your supermarket carries queso fresco cheese, it is likely that they also carry Cotija.


48 Kimby May 5, 2011 at 5:32 pm

Thank you for the interesting tidbits, enticing salad recipe, and tips on Trivial Pursuit strategies — your link to the Meyer Lemon Margaritas recipe was greatly appreciated! :) Also, thanks for the fritatta recipe a couple of blogs back — I’m making it for supper tonight. Yum…


49 Carolyn May 6, 2011 at 10:40 am

This is exactly my kind of salad, so fresh and flavourful. Camp Blogaway looks like a lot of fun…we need to have some sort of thing like this in the Northeast!


50 Maria May 6, 2011 at 10:40 am

Love this salad!


51 Alison @ Ingredients, Inc. May 6, 2011 at 7:37 pm

looks amazing!


52 Marly May 7, 2011 at 1:44 pm

What a perfect recipe for Cinco de Mayo…now for those margaritas!!!


53 Delishhh May 7, 2011 at 10:18 pm

Ohh just fabulous. This is not only perfect for Cinco de Mayo but all the time. My type of salad.


54 Kristi Rimkus May 8, 2011 at 8:41 am

Simple and refreshing salad. I could easily make a meal of this with some baked whole grain tortilla chips!


55 Tracy May 8, 2011 at 10:55 am

Perfect salad for Cinco de Mayo – or any day for that matter!


56 Frank May 9, 2011 at 5:50 am

Making Mexican at home is so easy—and so much *better*—than eating it out (most of the time, anyway) that I’m surprised more people don’t do it.

Anyway, this salad looks wonderful. Tomato and avocado were made for each other, of course, but the sprinkling of cotija really brings it to another level. Yum!


57 Wendy (The Local Cook) January 9, 2012 at 10:15 am

I have not tried Cojita cheese before, but might need to since this salad looks wonderful! Thank you so much for linking to the salad recipes roundup.


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