April 11, 2014

This Week in Food…Southwestern Chopped Salad with Cilantro-Yogurt Dressing

Spring had finally sprung! Hurrah! Time to move more and eat lighter. Which means...it's SALAD TIME! Soooooo.....

Here's a yummy salad recipe. It's my new Southwestern Chopped Salad with Cilantro-Yogurt Dressing. And it would be fantastic enjoyed as a nice, light dinner on a warm evening while relaxing on your back patio. It's pretty simple, maybe 15-20 minutes to prep. Feel free to tweak your salad ingredients with what you like-- though I really recommend the creaminess (and healthfulness) of the avocado, if you like them. You could certainly add chopped tomato, just get rid of the watery insides so it doesn't get soupy (or use grape tomatoes).

Also, tweak the dressing as you like it. The way I've written the recipe, you'll end up with something slightly sweet (because of the honey) and with a little southwestern flair (because of the cumin and cilantro). If you like more bite to your dressing, decrease the honey and up the cumin and maybe throw in some chili powder. You could even add a little taco seasoning in place of the cumin, if you like. I highly recommend getting your "base" going with the main ingredients listed and then add a little something, blend and taste; add more, or something else, blend and taste again. Keep this up until you get a dressing you love. That's what I did. Don't be afraid to play with it!!

Recipe adapted from thegardengrazer.com

Southwestern Chopped Salad with Cilantro-Yogurt Dressing
1-2 Romaine hearts, chopped (depending on the size of your romaine heads and the amount of salad you want to end up with; I only used one.)
1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 red or orange bell pepper, chopped
1 avocado, peeled and chopped
2 c. frozen sweet corn, thawed completely but still cool (you can thaw it quickly by dumping it in a bowl and covering it in cold water; let it sit for a few minutes then drain and use.)
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
(optional: chopped, cooked fajita chicken strips...if you want chicken; but remember you've already got the protein in the black beans)

for the dressing
1 c. loosely packed fresh cilantro, large stems removed
1 small container plain Greek yogurt (mine was 5.3 oz), or about a 1/2 c.
the juice of 1/2 lime (really get all of the juice out of it!)
1 clove of garlic or 1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 c. olive oil
1 1/2 tsp white vinegar
1/8 tsp salt
3-4 tsp honey*
1 tsp cumin*

Prep your salad ingredients and put all of them in a large bowl. Mix gently to combine. Put all dressing ingredients into a food processor or blender and blend until thoroughly combined and a creamy consistency (it should be a nice bright green color). Tweak as needed. Once you are happy with the dressing, you can either dress the whole salad or dress the individual servings. (If you don't plan to eat the entire salad at one meal, I recommend dressing each serving and storing leftover salad and dressing separately.) Pour the desired amount of dressing on the salad and toss gently to coat everything in dressing. Enjoy!

*Note: The honey cuts the bite of the cilantro. I recommend adding it one tsp at a time and then tasting until you get it where you like it. I do not measure my honey. I just squeeze some in, a little at a time, and then tasted it-- so the 3-4 tsp is a guess at how much I use. Same thing with the cumin. I add about a 1/4 tsp at a time until I got it where I wanted it...which I think was about 1 tsp.

Until next time, happy (and healthy) eating!

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