Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Southwest Salad w/ Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

Southwest Salad

We had a birthday party for my mom at a family member's house a couple of weeks ago. It was southwestern/tex-mex themed, and I was asked to bring a salad. I've made a southwestern salad a few times before and thought it would be easy to do. Several people (surprisingly) told me it was their favorite part of the meal. So I decided to reproduce it here so they - and you all - could see it. It's colorful, hearty, and healthy. And it's great as a side - or if you want to use it as an easy meal, add some grilled or rotisserie chicken and you have a quick and easy meal.

Coriander for Vinaigrette
I think the thing that makes the salad great, other than the heartiness, is the dressing that I make with it. It's a simple, cilantro lime vinaigrette that gets tossed with the salad. Using fresh ingredients is always helpful - and I love using fresh spices. The dressing uses coriander. What we use as "coriander seeds" are actually the dried fruits of the cilantro plant. To really bring out the citrus flavor in them to complement the cilantro in the dressing (the leaves from the herb) and the lime juice, I toast them in a dry skillet for a bit, and then grind them with a mortar and pestle. 

1 large bag Romaine lettuce blend
1 large red onion, chopped
1 (15oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (11oz) can Mexicorn
2 cup tortilla chips, crushed 
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
3/4 cup grape tomatoes, halved

Layer these all in a bowl. You can use different types of tortilla chips for flavor. I like the lime- and jalapeno-flavored chips work well with them. Now for the dressing...

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons cilantro leaves and stems, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt 
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon coriander, toasted and ground
1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Combine all of the ingredients in a food processer and lightly blend them. Add oil to thin if necessary.

Pour the dressing over the top of the salad and toss it. Serve it soon.

The chips can become soggy if you leave it sitting too long before serving. The crunch to the chips is one of the best parts of the salad! And you can add some grilled or rotisserie chicken to make it a complete, healthy meal. And if you like a little heat, throw some cayenne on the chicken or sprinkle some crushed red pepper in it. Great flavor for something so quick and easy! Let me know what you think.

No comments:

Post a Comment