Tuesday, August 03, 2010
SOUTHWESTERN SALAD WITH CILANTRO-LIME VINAIGRETTE
I’ve discussed this before, but I have a weird aversion to green salad recipes. Unless it’s really complex or has an exotic feature (like meat or fruit, or both), I tend to look away, thinking, “Big whoop! Different vegetables on top of lettuce. I could’ve thought of that!” The trouble is, I never do think of it, and just end up eating plain spring mix and dressing 90% of the time. So I’m trying to be more open-minded. I spotted this utterly delicious-looking cilantro-lime dressing at Whipped and immediately bookmarked it (if two flavor combos had to compete for my summer adoration, it would be a cage match between lemon-basil and cilantro-lime), but only later did I think to click through to the original recipe and its accompanying salad at For the Love of Cooking. It looked so fresh and colorful and full of things I love (avocado! corn! black beans!) that it immediately broke through my salad-recipe resistance. With a quesadilla on the side, it made for a delicious and satisfying Summer Salad Night.
Obviously, measurements are approximate (I probably ended up using more corn and black beans, just because I had them), and you can customize however you like to fit your tastes. I didn’t tinker much, except that since we were having quesadillas, I left out the cheese the first time around. But A was a bit underwhelmed by the salad, and at his suggestion, I threw in some extra shredded pepper Jack the next day when we ate the leftovers for lunch (I stored the tomato/onion/pepper/bean/corn mixture, the dressing, the lettuce, and the half-avocado all separately). It added an important creamy/savory/spicy component, so I’ll definitely add it again next time (although I imagine crumbled cotija would also be quite tasty). Although I also skipped the tortilla strips—I had some tortilla chips I thought I’d use, but the pepitas seemed to fulfill the salty/crunchy role well enough— if I had some extra corn tortillas next time, I’d probably cut and bake them and throw them in there. I could also see this being good with pieces of cooked chicken added, if you feel you need more protein to round out the meal. As for the dressing, I might try leaving out the vinegar next time; I was pretty (overly?) enthusiastic with the lime, so that acidity would probably be enough. But it was still utterly tasty, and easy enough to make with my immersion blender that I’d happily try it over just corn, black beans, tomatoes, or even my habitual plain salad greens.
½ cup chopped cilantro
¼ cup canola oil
1–2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
1 clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon dried oregano
1 head Romaine lettuce, chopped
¾ cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved if large
2 green onions, sliced
2 small red, yellow, or orange bell peppers, diced
½ cup black beans
½ cup fresh (cooked and cut from cob) or frozen (thawed) sweet corn
1 tablespoons raw or toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1 ripe avocado, diced
¼ cup crumbled cotija or shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 handful chopped corn chips or baked or fried corn or flour tortilla strips
1. Combine all the dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor (or put them in a small bowl and use an immersion blender). Blend well and then let the flavors mingle for at least 30 minutes before using.
2. In a large salad bowl, combine all the salad ingredients, add the dressing, and toss well.
Time: 35 minutes
Leftover potential: Low, unless you store the lettuce separately from the dressing and other ingredients.