Thursday, July 31, 2014

Mexican Chopped Salad

 I have had so much fun trying and writing about all these new salads this summer. I have actually learned quite a bit about making my own dressings and which oils and vinegars best compliment each other. It's also been a great way to eat healthy and use up amazing summer vegetables while they are in season. This Mexican Chopped Salad (adapted from here) is sort of a combination of 2 other salads I've tried this year -The  Chopped Greek Salad and the Southwestern Salad.

So I'm no expert on chopped salads, but I have eaten a few and now I've made a couple as well. In my experience, here's what makes a chopped salad a chopped salad. First, you should be able to eat a chopped salad with a fork and fork only. Everything should be cut small enough that you don't need a knife to make it bite-sized. I've also heard them called "spoon salads" because you could eat it with a spoon if you wanted to. Second, lettuce should not be the star of the salad. It should blend in with all the other ingredients.

This salad has amazing summer ingredients as well as a crunchy corn tortilla topper. The lime and honey dressing is super easy and light and gives an unexpected but complimentary sweetness to the salad. The whole thing is so refreshing and honestly, since there are black beans for protein, it could really stand alone as a lunch.

There are two pictures of ingredients.
 Here's what you may need to pick from your garden or pick up at the store (yes I know that you can't pick canned black beans and corn tortillas from your garden - hopefully you get the point).

Here are your pantry items.

Ingredients for the Dressing:
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 T. honey
1 t. cumin
2 cloves garlic
1/2 t. salt
4 T. olive oil
freshly ground pepper

Mix everything together.
For the record, this is the picture I took before I added the oil, so the measurement is a little off of what you should end up with.


 These corn tortilla strips are so delicious that I'm seriously going to make more just to snack on.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Take 6 corn tortillas and slice them into 1/4 inch strips.

Drizzle a couple Tablespoons of olive oil over the strips, coating them. Sprinkle with sea salt.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, stirring about 5 every  minutes.

Take them out when they're slightly brown and crispy.


Now for the main part of the salad. For the most part, it's just chopping, chopping, and more chopping (it is a chopped salad, after all).

I chose to grill the corn, but it's not necessary. It's been in the 70's here all week, and the grill has just been begging to get fired up. You can boil it and it will be just as fine - minus the yummy grilled taste.

 Here's my method for grilling corn.

Pull off the outside husks. Pull back (without removing) the inside husks so you can remove the silk.

Put the inside husks back around the corn.

 And soak it in a pan of water. This helps prevent the husks from catching fire on the grill.
  Grill over low heat for 20 minutes, turning 5 every  minutes. Let it cool before you cut it for the salad.

Now for the chopping. Cut the romaine and tomatoes into bite sized pieces.

Dice up the peppers (take the seeds out of the jalapeno if you don't want the heat), and dice the avocado.

Dice up half of the red onion. Drain and rinse the black beans. If you skip the rinsing, the beans leave a grayish coating over the salad. It just looks cleaner when they are rinsed.

Once the corn is cooled, cut it off the cob.

And finally, mix it all together.

Coat it with the dressing and top with corn tortilla strips.

 This salad goes great with anything. I served it with brown rice mixed with leftover brisket. The combination was so delicious. Also, this salad holds up extremely well for leftovers, so even though it makes a LOT, you can eat on it for several days.

I hope you've had a chance to make some yummy salads with deliciously fresh produce this summer!

Other salads I've tried this summer are...

1.) Grilled Corn Salad with Basil Dressing
2.) Watermelon Salad with Balsamic Dressing
3.) Cucumber Dill Greek Yogurt Salad
4.) Caprese Salad with Basil Pesto
5.) Southern Western Salad with Marinated Chicken 
6.) Three Bean Salad 
7.) Chopped Greek Salad 
8.) Farmer's Market Pasta Salad

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