Southwestern Salad with Lime, Cumin and Oregano Dressing

With cherry tomatoes, sweet corn, peppers, cucumbers, black beans, red onion, avocado and tortilla chips


For the past two years, Roo and I would go to a bar near his uncle’s townhouse before climbing Beacon Hill to watch the fireworks.

The first year I may have had too many drinks on an empty stomach; stumbling on seemingly flat cobblestone paths and wondering why the townhouse’s doors were so hard to open.

The second year I learned my lesson and didn’t pass on the appetizers Roo ordered. (While I may have found Jack Williams commentating on the 4th amusing1, most of the guests did not.)

This year the party was canceled, which left Roo and I to debate if we’d go downtown by ourselves or stay home.

“The Fourth is my favorite holiday.”

“Really? Because all this time, I had no idea.”

“Oh stop,” I said, crossing my arms, “you knew.”

“I know. But that doesn’t mean we should go down to the Esplanade at 6 a.m. to fight for a spot, only to suffer from heat stroke by noon.”

“I heard it’s supposed to rain on Wednesday.”

“Even better!”

“Well, what do you want to do, Mr. My-Favorite-Holiday-Is-Christmas-So-I-Shouldn’t-Even-Have-A-Say.”

“One, Christmas is awesome. There are presents, a tree that makes your house smell great, and Irish Coffees to drink in front of the fireplace. And two, we could make our own sangria.”

“I don’t know how a smelly tree can beat fireworks, but you had me at sangria.”

1 Because he acted like he wasn’t wearing pants behind the anchor desk, of course.

.

I had no desire to stand in our 100 degree kitchen today, making our traditional order of nachos.  Instead, this southwestern salad comes together in minutes and has all the flavors I crave: refreshing lime, a little heat, lovely crisp textures from the cold cucumber and tortilla chips, creaminess from the avocado and black beans, and a bit of sweetness from the fresh, raw sweet corn and yellow peppers.

Bold and bright is the way to go, and each bite tastes just like that.

Serves 2

Equipment

A sharp knife

A small mixing bowl

A whisk

A large mixing bowl

Tongs, two forks, or your hands to toss the ingredients with

Ingredients

For the dressing

1 teaspoon of dijon mustard

Quarter cup of lime juice (about 3 – 4 freshly squeezed limes) *If you end up having extra lime juice, toss your avocados in it!

3 tablespoons of mild tasting olive oil

1 – 2 teaspoons of agave nectar (depending on desired sweetness) or maple syrup/whatever liquid sweetener you prefer

1 teaspoon of ground cumin

Half teaspoon of dried oregano

Fine sea salt to taste (I use a quarter teaspoon)

Quarter cup of cilantro, chopped (optional)

For the salad

2 handfuls of preferred salad greens (I just grabbed from our CSA), torn into easily edible pieces

1 handful of cherry tomatoes, halved

1 brightly colored pepper, cut into easily edible pieces (I had leftovers of red and orange)

1 avocado, halved lengthwise, pit removed and cut into easily edible pieces

1 ear fresh sweet corn, kernels cut off (you could also thaw a handful of frozen corn kernels if they’re not in season in your area yet)

1 small cucumber, cut into chunks (I prefer pickling cukes as they’re quite small, super crunchy and don’t need to be peeled)

Quarter of a red onion, thinly sliced (optional)

1 serrano pepper, cut in half lengthwise, deseeded, then thinly sliced (optional, especially if you’re heat sensitive)

1 cup of cooked black beans, or half a (15 ounce) can, drained, well rinsed then drained again

1 handful of tortilla chips, crumbled into easily edible pieces (with your hands)

Add your ingredients for the dressing (except the cilantro) to your small mixing bowl.  Whisk the ingredients together till well combined.  Taste and add more sweetener or salt if desired.  Add the cilantro and mix till combined.  Set aside.

Add your ingredients for the salad to the large mixing bowl (except the tortilla chips).  Toss the ingredients together so that they’re evenly distributed.  Add half of the dressing to the bowl.  Toss the ingredients again so that they’re evenly coated with the dressing.  Taste.  If it needs more dressing, add the rest to your bowl, and toss the ingredients again.  Plate the salad and divide the crumbled tortilla chips between the two servings.  Serve immediately.

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