Senor Pico Tex-Mex Trader Vic's Pacific Island Cookbook

Senor Pico’s Compuesta Salad (with Guacamole and Refried Beans)

Is it a garnish? A dip? A salad? A meal? The great thing about ‘Senor Pico’s Compuesta Salad.’ is that it can be whatever you want it be. Serve the chicken on the side and you even have a dish that will make the vegetarians happy. Which is a big plus when cooking retro food whilst accommodating modern palettes.

The ‘Chalupa Compuesta Salad’ from Trader Vic’s Pacific Island Cookbook.

This recipe was originally entitled “Chalupa Compuesta Salad” and was designed to be served as individualized salad bowls or ‘chalupas.’ A specialty of south-central Mexico, the chalupa is a concave fried tortilla shell that can be filled with diverse ingredients but is traditionally furnished with salsa, cheese and lettuce.  It is named after the small, gondola-shaped, boats used in Mexico as water taxis, particularly at the floating gardens of Xochimilco south of Mexico City.  At Senor Pico‘s these chalupas were filled with lettuce, guacamole, refried beans, chicken, and cheese and then garnished with green peppers, black olives, onions and tomatoes. (Whew, just describing this dish is a mouthful!) Personally, I opted to forego the ‘chalupa’ aspect of this dish and simply serve nacho chips on the side of this heaping center-piece of a dish.

I found this dish simply delightful. It’s always nice to be able to place something festive and over the top on the table at a dinner party, but the great thing is how all the flavours work so well together. Far from weakening their respective strengths, the guacamole and refried beans find a joyous harmony in this bountiful playground.  We’ve come to take guacamole for granted in this age of plenty. Renew your guests sense of wonder with this gilded lily, you won’t regret it.

Senor Pico’s Compuesta Salad

6 cups of shredded lettuce
3 cups of refried beans* (see recipe below)
1 cup of Cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups of cooked chicken
2 cups of guacamole* (see recipe below)
1 green pepper
1 onion
6 black olives
6 cherry tomatoes

Create a bed of lettuce leaves and then assemble the layers of shredded lettuce, refried beans, guacamole, and Cheddar cheese one after the other. Decorate with chicken, green pepper slices, onion slices, cherry tomatoes and olives. You are free to use your own recipe for the guacamole and refried beans but for extra authenticity, I recommend using the Senor Pico recipes.

Refried Bean Dip

1 can of refried beans
1/2 tsp chili powder
3 dashes Tabasco
2 tbsp minced onion
2 tbsp sour cream

Mix ingredients together and season to taste with salt and pepper.


2 avocadoes mashed
1 tomato peeled and chopped
1 tbsp minced onion
2 oz French dressing
1 tsp minced hot chili pepper
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 dash Tabasco
1/2 lime (juiced)

Mix ingredients together and season with salt and pepper. Now, you probably guffawed in disgust at the perplexing appearance of French dressing and I don’t blame you. It is a peculiar trend in vintage guacamole recipes to fold in some type of creamy mystery ingredient, whether that be mayonnaise, sour cream, or, in this case, French dressing. I wouldn’t blame you if you decided to forego the dressing, but then again, what’s the fun in that? Doing these recipes is about having fun, exploring and taking your tongue on a culinary time machine. And, having done this recipe a few times already, I can guarantee you the French dressing certainly does not ruin the experience.


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