Meals have been challenging in my house lately. My daughter is back to being a pescatarian. She no longer eats meat, only seafood. Then, my son and I have eliminated flour and sugar from our diets completely, to rule out some health issues. My husband? Oh, he’s still eating donuts! So, what works for some of us…doesn’t for all of us. This salad works perfectly…for everyone.

Diet restrictions aside, this is exactly the type of salad I love and could eat every day. It is so full of great ingredients that add flavor, texture, color and nutrition! One of the best parts is the dressing! It’s so tasty, you’ll never notice that it is super low in fat!

While in the grocery store just yesterday, I passed a package of a Southwest Chopped Salad Kit. I picked it up to compare it to my own and read the nutrition facts. My jaw dropped. First of all, the entire bag had less chopped veggies than a single portion of my own and apparently, it was a three serving bag! Each tiny serving (about one cup) had twelve grams of fat and just two grams of fiber! This salad may be some work in chopping…but it’s absolutely worth it.

Southwest Chopped Salad with Salsa Vinaigrette | @tasteLUVnourish

Southwest Chopped Salad with Salsa Vinaigrette

1 large head romaine lettuce, finely chopped
1/4 head small red cabbage, finely chopped
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 medium red pepper, finely chopped
2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
822g can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups cooked quinoa (see Notes)
2 avocados, cubed
cotija cheese for serving
cilantro leaves, chopped or torn

Salsa Vinaigrette
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup salsa or picante sauce (I use a roasted tomato salsa that is fantastic!)

Prepare the vinaigrette by combining all of the ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Give it a good shake, then set aside.

In a very large bowl, add all of the salad ingredients, up to and including the quinoa. Toss well.

When serving, top with the avocado cubes, cotija cheese, cilantro and dressing.

Notes:

  • I love using red quinoa because it adds color, seems a bit less bitter to me and I think it keeps its shape better when cooked. Having said that, I do cook the quinoa al dente for recipes like this. Most packages will call for 15 minutes of cooking time. I cook mine 10 to 11 minutes, then drain in a fine mesh sieve if necessary. For this recipe, cook 1 cup of quinoa in about 2 cups of water with a pinch of salt.
  • I know…I always tell you this, but be sure to rinse your quinoa before cooking. It removes the saponins that gives it a bitter taste
  • This makes a ton of salad, but it can last for days in the fridge! So perfect for packing for lunch! Just don’t dress the entire salad when you make it. Let everyone put on their own along with the toppings to keep it fresh.
  • To keep this vegan, omit the cotija cheese or substitute with a vegan cheese
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