As promised earlier this week to balance my Triple Chocolate Turtle Cookies, I bring you salad! But not just any salad, a hearty, Southwest Pepper Jack Salad with Creamy Avocado Salsa Dressing that will actually have you craving salad. You will still crave the cookies, but at least you can stuff yourself with this salad first so you won’t consume as many cookies.
I love a salad where lettuce is the afterthought, more of an in-between filler of all other things delicious. This salad is no exception.
Packed with black beans, red bell peppers, tomatoes, fresh sweet corn, pepitas, Pepper Jack cheese, and bathed in Creamy Avocado Salsa Dressing. Oh this dressing! Its fiesta flavors make me giddy! Salsa, cilantro, garlic, lime, jalapeno and splash of smoked paprika and cumin blended with avocado and sour cream (or Greek yogurt) for a smooth, creamy dressing that deserves its own mariachi encore. The ingredient list is somewhat lengthy for the dressing, but it comes together in less than 5 minutes because all you do is add them to the blender and blend until smooth – so please don’t be intimidated – I promise its so worth it. I love the dressing so much I doubled it just so I could have leftovers to douse my burritos in. I’m pretty certain you will love it too.
And of course, no Southwest salad would be complete without chips – AKA tortilla strips. I’m all about adding chips to a salad under the guise of tortilla strips. Brilliant. I particularly love the Sante Fe Style tortilla strips from Fresh gourmet – the spicing on them is the crowning jewel to an already jaw dropping – as in shove more salad in me please – salad.
If you want to transform this salad into a meal, then I suggest topping it with either my All Purpose Chili Lime Chicken or my Chipotle Chicken. Dynamite combo. Now prepare yourself for the combination of fresh, crunchy veggies, pepitas and tortilla strips, sprinkled with spicy, buttery pepper jack cheese all doused in creamy dressing packed with all your favorite Mexican flavors.
Prepare yourself for Southwest Pepper Jack Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing.
- Southwest Salad
- 1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
- fresh corn kernels from 1 ear of sweet corn
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
- 1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1/3 cup roasted and salted pepitas (may sub. sunflower seeds)
- 1/2 cup grated pepper jack cheese, or more to taste
- Tortilla Strips for Salads (I like Fresh Gourmet Santa Fe Style)
Creamy Avocado Salsa Dressing
- 1 small avocado, peeled and sliced
- 1 small jalapeno, seeded, deveined and roughly chopped (optional)
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- 1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro
- 1/4 cup sour cream (may sub.plain Greek yogurt)
- 1/4 cup smooth salsa (medium for more of a kick)
- 1/4 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar*
- juice from 1 lime
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
- hot sauce to taste (optional)
To Make a Meal (optional):
- Chipotle Chicken - recipe HEREE OR
- Chili Lime Chicken - recipe HERE
- Add all of the Creamy Avocado Salad Dressing ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth, scraping the sides down as needed. Add hot sauce and additional salt and pepper to taste. Add additional milk to thin to desired consistency if needed. Chilli in the refrigerator, time permitting.
- Add salad ingredients to a large bowl except for the tortilla strips and toss to combine.
- Toss salad with desired amount of dressing (there will probably be some left over) or drizzle dressing over individual servings if not eating all of the salad immediately.
- Garnish salad with tortilla strips and freshly cracked salt and pepper.
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