I've got quite the string of sweeter recipe posts going, so I thought it's time that I posted more of a healthful, savory meal. I first noticed the recipe for this salad in an older issue of Vegetarian Times. I don't know about you, but I always seem to pick recipes out of magazines while I'm sweating away at the gym. Good thing they don't have TV's at the student gym. If I start watching food network, I would really be in trouble =)
Anyway, after coming home and immediately looking the recipe up online, I've already made this recipe twice. Since it was in the July/August issue, it has more of a "summer flair" to it, but I can attest to the fact that it was still delicious in October. The second time, I even divided it up into lunch-sized portions (minus pre-packing the dressing) and enjoyed it all week. The recipe calls for you to make a simple homemade dressing, and it is absolutely my favorite part. It ties the whole salad together and gives it just a little kick.
I made a few swaps to the recipe using black beans rather than pintos, halved cherry tomatoes, and fresh bell peppers instead of roasted peppers. It is definitely one of those meals where you can swap ingredients wherever you see fit. If you've been craving vegetable-packed meals like I have, give this a try! It only serves as proof that lower-calorie, healthful meals can still be filling, flavorful, and delicious!
Mexicali Chop Salad with Crunchy Tortilla Strips
Adapted from Vegetarian Times
3 6-inch corn or flour tortillas
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp.)
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/3 c. lime juice
1/4 c. chopped green onion
1/4 c. cilantro, chopped
pinch cayenne pepper
8 c. romaine lettuce (1 head) or spinach
1 pkg. cherry tomatoes, halved
1 avocado, diced
3 celery stalks, thinly sliced
1 cucumber, diced and seeded
1 c. fresh or frozen corn (thawed if frozen)
3/4 c. black beans
1/2 c. fresh red bell pepper, chopped (can use roasted)
1/3 c. finely chopped red onion
To make the tortilla strips, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray the tortillas with non-stick spray and spread on a baking sheet. Combine chili powder, sugar, and salt in a small bowl and sprinkle the mixture over the tortillas. Cut tortillas in half with a pizza slicer and slice into 1/8-inch wide strips. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp.
To make the dressing, heat the olive oil, garlic, cumin, coriander, sugar and salt for 2-3 minutes over low heat until the garlic begins to sizzle. Add the lime juice, green onion, and cilantro and blend with an immersion blender until smooth (this can also be added to a stand blender if desired).
Toss together all salad ingredients. Layer tortilla strips on top of the lettuce mixture and top with the dressing.
Yield: 4 (The original recipe says it serves 8, but those would be little salads. You will have extra dressing for only 4 salads).
Note: The dressing will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.