Throwing a football party at your house? Got kids coming home for the holidays? Going to a potluck dinner soon? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you will want to make this colorful, flavorful, and healthy salad. It’s the type of salad you can make for two and have leftovers, but it more easily feeds a crowd! There are few hard and fast rules in this great recipe; it is a salad after all! Like avocados? Put them in! Don’t like jicama? Leave it out! Want to serve it as a main dish? No problem, just add some protein in the form of diced chicken breast, bacon, shrimp, taco meat or hard-boiled eggs. Want to make it ahead of time? Prepare the ingredients the night before and store them in airtight containers. Assemble it right before serving. This salad travels well, too. Put the prepared ingredients in separate zip-type plastic bags or small plastic containers and then arrange them over the bed of greens when you arrive at your destination. Other than for the spicy southwestern-inspired salad dressing, there are no specific measurements for this salad. Adjust the amounts of the salad add-ins proportionally to the amount of greens you use. For the sake of giving you some parameters, I am giving you rough estimates of what I would serve as a side salad for six to eight people.
Southwestern Chopped Salad
Southwestern Ranch Salad Dressing (Adapted from a recipe found on Food.com):
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1-2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons minced tomatoes
1 tablespoon white vinegar
2 teaspoons canned diced jalapeno peppers
1 tablespoon finely minced onion
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed
1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon honey or real maple syrup
Directions to Make Salad Dressing:
1. Note: The flavors in this salad dressing need time to meld, so it should be made three to four hours ahead of serving time.
2. Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl, except for the milk.
3. Add milk to thin, as needed.
4. Cover and chill.
3 heads of romaine hearts or 1 head of iceberg lettuce
1/2 red onion, diced
2 cups frozen corn
1 (15 ounce) can of black beans
1 medium can sliced black olives
1 red or orange bell pepper, diced
1/2 medium-sized jicama, diced
1 bunch cilantro
1-2 cucumbers, diced
Shredded cheddar cheese
Corn chips or toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
2 avocados, peeled and cubed (optional)
1-2 fresh tomatoes, diced (optional)
Directions to Make the Salad:
1. Wash lettuce leaves and spin or blot dry. Stack three or four leaves at a time and cut into 3/4-inch-wide ribbons. The large leaves should be stacked and cut in half down the spine before slicing into ribbons.
2. Finely dice half of the red onion.
3. Place frozen corn in a strainer and run cool water over it until the kernels are thawed. Drain thoroughly.
4. Pour the can of beans into a sieve and rinse with cold water. Let drain.
5. Drain olives.
6. Dice the red pepper.
7. Peel and dice the jicama.
8. Wash and spin or blot dry the cilantro, pick leaves off and put into a small bowl.
9. Dice the cucumbers.
10. Break corn chips into coin-sized pieces, reserving whole pieces for garnish along the edge of your bowl.
11. When ready to assemble, place lettuce ribbons into a large, shallow bowl.
12. Except for the red onion, cilantro leaves, cheese, and corn chips, arrange each ingredient in concentric rings on top of the greens, beginning with the ingredient you have the least of and ending with the ingredient you have the most of. Try to balance the colors.
13. Sprinkle the onions, cilantro leaves, cheese, and corn chips decoratively on top of the salad.
14. Place whole corn chips on edge of salad bowl.
15. Serve with dressing on the side.
1. Romaine lettuce is more nutritious than iceberg, so it is always my fist choice.
2. All diced items should be diced approximately the same size for a uniform appearance.
3. Taco-flavored Doritos are really good in this salad!
4. Diced fresh tomatoes can be added or substituted for the red bell pepper. I leave out the tomatoes if the salad is to be made in advance or if I’m traveling with it. The red bell peppers provide enough color with out getting juicy like the tomatoes.
5. The salad dressing recipe only makes one cup, so if you’re serving a crowd, multiply the salad dressing recipe as needed.
6. The spicy-heat of the salad dressing can be adjusted by adding fewer jalapenos and less cayenne pepper. Remember to let the dressing sit for a couple of hours before you decide to adjust any of the flavors!
7. The salad dressing makes a great dip for vegetables, too – just don’t thin it out with the milk.