Chef Steve Molnar’s White Bean Dip with Salsa de Aguacate & Pickled Cactus

Toronto’s acclaimed upscale Mexican restaurant Quetzal, from Grant van Gameren and Owen Walker, has appointed formally-trained chef Steve Molnar as its new Head Chef. At the fine-dining College Street outpost, Molnar will continue to focus on celebrating Mexico’s culinary heritage, showcasing wood-fire cooking and incorporating sustainably-sourced Ontario ingredients.

Molnar’s menu features fresh ceviches, slow-cooked whole vegetables, grilled fish and meat, complex moles and salsas, daily fresh-made tortillas and masa-based dishes. Quetzal favourites remain – including the Grilled Squid with salsa macha, fermented masa and charred cabbage, the Lamb Barbacoa Empanada, a dish that was reverse-engineered to mimic the flavour and texture of meat traditionally cooked in a pit, and the Coconut Nicuatole, a traditional Oaxacan corn-based dessert (vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free).

Quetzal is located at 419 College St. and is open seven days a week starting at 5:30 p.m.


White Bean Dip with Salsa de Aguacate & Pickled Cactus

Serves 4 people

White Bean Puree

1 L Cooked White Beans
½ Spanish Onion (small dice)
4 Garlic Cloves (chopped)
10 g Avocado Leaf
125 ml Olive Oil
Salt to taste

1. Add Olive Oil to a large pan on medium heat, once hot, toss in onion and garlic with a pinch of salt, stir occasionally until translucent
2. Add avocado leaf and continue to sweat for three minutes
3. Add white beans with 250 ml of its liquid, cook for five minutes over low heat to infuse flavours and heat beans through
4. Add everything to a blender with a few pinches of salt and blend until smooth

Salsa de Aguacate

1/4 Spanish Onion (sliced)
1 Clove of Garlic
1/2 Serrano Chile (deseeded)
1 Jalapeno (deseeded)
2 Avocados
1 Tsp Coriander Seed
8 Tomatillos (peeled)
2 Bunches Cilantro (washed and dried)
Salt to taste

1. Bring a pot of water to boil and blanch tomatillos for roughly 8 minutes, until cooked through. Then remove and shock in an ice bath to stop the cooking.
2. Once cooled, add tomatillos and all other ingredients, except for the cilantro, to a blender and puree
3. Add cilantro and a few pinches of salt to the blender, blend until smooth

Cactus Escabeche

3 Cups White Vinegar
1 Cup Water
6 Garlic Cloves (smashed)
12 Peppercorns
1/4 Cup Salt
1 Tbsp Dried Mexican Oregano
2 Bay Leaves
2 Tbsp Sugar
3 Jalapenos (sliced in half, lengthwise)
4 Cactus Petals

1. Prepare Escabeche liquid by adding all ingredients except for the cactus petals into a medium pot, bring to a boil
2. Clean the cactus petals very carefully using a spoon to scrape the thorns off and trim the bottom of the cactus
3. Slice the petals into 1/4″ thick slices and toss liberally with salt, let sit for 15 minutes
4. Rinse cactus very well to remove the salt and slime, drain
5. Bring Escabeche liquid back to a boil and add in cleaned, chopped cactus, allow to cool to room temperature
6. Remove cactus from the pot dice into small pieces, store in escabeche liquid

Cotija Cheese (crumbled)
Pumpkin Seeds (tossed in vegetable oil and salt, toasted)
Morita Chile Powder (if you can’t find morita, any chile powder will work)

Final Assembly
1. Place 1 Cup of White Bean Puree in the base of a bowl
2. Spoon 2 Tbsp of Salsa de Aguacate on top of the puree
3. Garnish with diced pickled cactus, crumbled Cojita cheese, toasted pumpkin seeds and morita chile powder
4. Enjoy with tostadas or tortilla chips.


Specialty ingredients can be found in most Latin Supermarkets including places such as Perola’s in Kensington Market or Latin World in Bloordale Village.