Friday, September 13, 2013

Simple Southwest Chopped Salad + Vegan Cilantro Cream Dressing

I know, I know, my recipes lately have been feeling kinda summer-ish...and it's September!  But, I have three things to say to that: 1. I live in Arizona, so it feels like summer until Christmas.  I'm inspired by what I live, people!  2.  This recipe rocks, so stop complaining.  And 3.  Well...I guess it was just two things.  Anywho!

This light, crisp, sweet, and fresh salad is super refreshing and filling, yet light.  If you have carnivores in your home, this salad is easily modified by adding chopped or shredded chicken.   For all you herbivores out there, this salad needs no additional protein added!

The black beans provide a super protein packed punch, while the cucumbers hydrate, the corn lends sweetness, the avocado provides a creamy backdrop and the cilantro and green onion offer a fancy southwestern kick.  I threw in some lettuce and red bell peppers for good measure =)

Cooking tip: When using avocados in cooking or guacamole, cut the avocado in half.  Remove the pit, and "chop" the avocado in it's shell by slicing it vertically and horizontally.  Then scoop out the flesh with a spoon or squish it out by folding the shell in half.  The avocado comes out chopped and your cutting boards and hands stay goop free!

The cilantro cream dressing I used for this dish tastes great on just about any salad.   I make a double batch when making this salad recipe, and it lightly coats every ingredient perfectly, allowing the veggies to really shine through!

Enjoy this salad as a side or a main dish.  This recipe makes enough for an entire family!  If you plan to store it for a day or two and not eat it all right away, I recommend leaving out the cucumbers OR not adding the dressing until you're ready to eat it.  Otherwise, you'll end up with a very watery and limp chopped salad.  That is no bueno lovlies, no bueno indeed.

Also, did I mention this recipe is vegan and raw?!  Hip hip hooray for healthy delish food!! =)

Simple Southwest Chopped Salad
*See recipe for dressing below.  I used a double batch to coat the entire salad.  Makes enough for 4-5 people to enjoy an entire bowl of salad.  Enjoy with tequila or a cold beer.  And pretend summer isn't preparing to say adios. 

1 15oz can black beans, drained and rinsed well
1 cup yellow corn, I used thawed frozen organic
1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 romaine heart, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 avocado, chopped
3 green onions, chopped

To Prepare:  Gently toss all chopped ingredients in a bowl.  Top with your fav dressing, like the Vegan Cilantro Cream Dressing, and enjoy!

Vegan Cilantro Cream Dressing
*Makes enough to coat 3-5 cups of salad, depending on your dressing saturation preference.   Enjoy immediately.  

1 fistful fresh cilantro, about 1 loosely packed cup
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp vegan mayo, I used Veganaise
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
4-5 tablespoons olive oil

To Prepare:
1. In a small food processor, or high speed blender, add the cilantro, garlic, mayo and spices.  Pulse briefly to combine.

2.  Turn processor on low and add in the olive oil as the processor is running.  Turn up the speed and processes until the dressing is well incorporated and blended, about 15-30 seconds.

*Note: No food processor?  If you have a fork or whisk, it's alright!  Mince the cilantro and garlic, then whisk the dressing together by hand.  You will still get the same delicious end result, it just requires a little more elbow grease!

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