I’ve been making posole salad for picnics, parties, and barbecues years. I think people enjoy it because it’s both something different from the usual fare, while offering something familiar and not too “out there.”
So what is posole (or pozole)? Not everyone outside of the Latin community is familiar with posole. Posole means “hominy” (from the Nahuatl word pozolle), and actually refers to a stew, popular in Mexico and made with hominy and pork or chicken. But it is sometimes also used (loosely and unofficially) to refer to the hominy itself, which is properly called mote. Corn, in general, is known as maize.
Mote is maize that has had its hulls removed through a process known as nixtamalization. This involves boiling the kernels in a water-and-lime (or ash) solution. The resulting product is used in many traditional dishes throughout Latin America, the most commonly known being posole stew, a dish that goes back to the pre-Colombian Aztecs.
A bit of interesting, if ghoulish, history is tied to this dish. According to several sources I found, posole was never a vegetarian dish. And by that, I mean, it always contained meat. And by meat, I mean human meant. Yes, it was purportedly originally a cannibalistic dish. According to the writings of historian Fray Bernardino de Sahagún, the god Xipe was honored with annual festivities, and Fray (which means he was a friar) Bernardino observed them cutting up a prisoner and cooking his body parts together with maize. The dish was presented to emperor Moctezuma (Montezuma) as an offering. Then, when the Spaniards conquered the Aztecs, cannibalism was outlawed and the meat in posole was switched to pork because of its “similarity” to human flesh. (I won’t even try to discuss that one.)
Anyway, back to my salad. What’s familiar about it is that since it’s a corn product, it has a corn-ish flavor—mild and slightly popcorn-y. It’s got a firm texture and a good chew, and it can be quite hearty. So, for many people, it’s new and different, but not far from what they already know, and definitely fun to eat.
This salad is so easy to make and it’s easily transportable. You can make it a day ahead or throw it all together at the last minute (although it tastes better if it sits a couple of hours). And, of course, it’s gluten free.
So here’s something new for your summer get-together. I hope you enjoy it.
Picnic Posole Salad
Serves 8 to 10
1 (15-oz.) can white hominy (mote blanco)
1 (15-oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup cooked corn (fresh or frozen)
1 small jalapeno, minced
1 (15-oz.) can hearts of palm, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 cups arugula
¼ cup chopped cilantro or parsley
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Rinse the hominy in a mesh strainer under cool running water. Combine it and the remaining salad ingredients in a medium serving bowl.
Make the dressing. In a small bowl, combine ¼ olive oil with the remaining dressing ingredients. Reserve the remaining ¼ cup oil.
Pour the dressing over the salad and mix well. If you’re not serving it right away, cover and refrigerate it. Let it sit at room temperature for a half hour before serving.
Just before serving, mix in the remaining olive oil. Taste for seasoning and adjust, if necessary.