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Cowboy Ciao Restaurant Stetson Chopped Salad

Source: Chef Marianne Belardi - Cowboy Ciao Restaurant, Phoenix, Arizona - azfamily.com

1/2 cup Israeli (pearl) couscous, cooked
1/2 cup Roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup super-sweet dried corn
1/2 cup arugula, chopped
2 ounces smoked salmon, diced
2 ounces asiago cheese, crumbled **
1/4 cup toasted pepitas **
1/4 cup dried black currants** Pesto dressing (See recipe below.)

**Combine these ingredients beforehand and use as one row. All are available at Trader Joe's.

In a shallow bowl, assemble the ingredients in rows. Start with tomatoes or arugula at one end; push previous row back with one hand as you place and line up the next ingredient with the other hand. After presenting salad, pour dressing over and toss to mix well. Notes: If pearl couscous is unavailable, substitute a tiny pasta like ditalini or acini di pepe. Pepitas are sometimes called Mexican pumpkin seeds. Sweet dried corn is usually available at natural food markets or in the produce section of some major grocery stores.

Pesto Dressing:
1/2 cup basil pesto
1 cup aioli (See note below.)
1 shallot, roughly chopped
1 cup buttermilk
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon coarse black pepper
Salt to taste

Add first three ingredients to food processor and blend thoroughly. With motor running, pour in buttermilk. Add remaining ingredients to combine. If using prepared pesto, taste before adding additional salt. Store in refrigerator.

NOTE: If you cannot find commercially prepared aioli and don't want to make your own, you can substitute mayonnaise, or use 1 cup olive oil, drizzled in very slowly with motor running so the mixture emulsifies. It should thicken further with refrigeration.

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