Salads don't always have to include lettuce, spinach, or kale. Nothing against leafy green vegetables. I couldn't live without them. But sometimes you want something that's healthy and different from the mundane. If you love nachos and burritos, I know you'll love this Southwestern Salad recipe.
There are many ingredients that crossover in this salad with Mexican dishes. My friend was making guacamole and a salsa dip next to me while I made this salad. To our surprise, we used most of the same ingredients - black beans, avocados, jalapeños, tomatoes, red onions, and so forth.
I've been in a salad-creating frenzy this past week, which has been fun and made me confident that I wasn't lacking in nutrients. My immune system feels sufficiently boosted with nutrients and with my 5 Easy Ways to Boost Your Immune System. But my palate just wanted some variety in flavours and textures from the traditional green leafy salad. I took a good look at my pantry and refrigerator and thought - Southwestern Salad!
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Although a creamy dressing is what people often pair with a Southwestern salad, I'm not a fan of the typical store bought ranch dressing due to the fat content and the strong, heavy and sweet taste. It feels overwhelming and nauseating. Also, it seems to neutralise the health benefits of the vegetables you're consuming because of all of that added cholesterol and unhealthy fat. So, I propose a less creamy but equally as delicious of a dressing to brighten up this recipe. Here are the things you'll need.
(for a serving size of six: 1 cup per serving)
340g Corn (1 can drained or 3 cooked corn off the cob)
400g Black Beans (1 can drained)
8 Cherry Tomatoes
1/2 large Red Onion
2 Green Onions
1/4 bunch of cilantro (about one ounce)
2 Jalapeños (seeds removed)
2 limes, juiced (1/4 cup)
1/2 tsp honey
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt to taste
Some of the Health Benefits* of These Ingredients:
Corn - loads of various B vitamins and Potassium for essential nutrients, blood pressure control and heart health
Black Beans - Vitamins B1 & B6, Magnesium, Manganese, Iron, and has a low glycemic index (blood sugar control)
Tomatoes - Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B9 (folate), and Potassium all great for heart health, immune system boosting, maintaining normal blood clotting, bone health, anti-cancer properties, and fetal health for pregnant women
Onions - Vitamins B6, B9, and C, and Potassium which are all necessary for immune system function and heart health, in addition to cholesterol control, blood sugar control, and anti-cancer properties
Avocados - Vitamins B5, B6, B9, C, E, & K, Potassium, and aids in cholesterol control
Lime - Vitamins A, B, C, & D, Calcium, Magnesium, and Potassium for skin health, digestive health, immune system function, boosting metabolism, heart health, regulates blood sugar and has anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties
Jalapeños - Vitamins A, B6, B9, C, K and Manganese which aid in your immune system function, help maintain normal blood clotting, aid in heart health, and has anti-cancer properties
*In addition to Fiber & Protein
Drain the corn and the beans of any excess liquid. Place them in a large salad bowl.
Halve the cherry tomatoes and add them to the bowl.
Dice the red onion into cubes, green onions about a 1/4" in width, and the avocados into large cubes (about 1" width). Then add them to the salad bowl.
Roughly mince the cilantro leaves. You can add the stems into the mix if you don't want to throw them out, but I usually don't because they're uncomfortable to chew. Then, add them to the salad bowl.
To make the dressing, juice two limes into a mixer. Remove the seeds from the jalapeños and add them to the mixer. (If you want it to be a bit spicier, add 1/4 of the seeds of one jalapeño.) Add two pinches of salt (about 1/4 tsp), 1 tsp of honey, and 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil. Blend on high speed for at least 30 seconds until the jalapeños are completely blended and the mix becomes a light green creamy colour. Taste to make sure it is sufficiently seasoned. If you want it sweeter, add another 1/2 tsp of honey.
Toss the salad with the dressing so that the vegetables are thoroughly coated, and it's ready to serve.
I made this Southwest Salad with the creamy lime jalapeños dressing as a side dish for a group of friends for a lunch gathering. We had a small porchetta, which can be quite a heavy dish, so this salad paired perfectly to give the meal a light, acidic and bright flavour.
If you decide to pack this salad for work, you can make it more complete with some grilled chicken or tofu. But my friends loved it as is. They actually kept digging into this salad with tortilla chips!
However you find yourself eating it, know that this southwestern salad is loaded with healthy and nutritious ingredients for you, so you don't have to worry about eating too much. Try it out and let me know how you put your own spin on it by leaving a comment below.