Chipotle Southwestern Salad

Chipotle Southwestern Salad

Chipotle Southwestern Salad

I absolutely love a salad that is a full meal, independent of anything else. Salads offer so much variety of color, flavor, and texture all in one place. A full-meal salad is a fundamentally different experience than those namby-pamby cafeteria salads with their bits of iceberg lettuce and carrot shreds that you have to drench with a quart of ranch to make worthy of consumption.

This salad is of course one of the former. It stars this chipotle-lime chicken and this creamy avocado-lime dressing, and it’s hearty and flavorful enough that you can omit the chicken if you want a fresh meatless meal. The array of flavors here work perfectly together. The chipotle-lime chicken and roasted sweet potatoes are somewhat spicy on their own, but combined in the salad with the creamy dressing, they create a great mild-medium heat. Sweet corn, smoky black beans, and green onions round everything out over a bed of crisp lettuce.

Chipotle Southwestern Salad

I wouldn’t have guessed my 3-year-old would be into salads, but surprise, he not only wanted thirds, but chose it as his snack the next day. The chipotle roasted sweet potatoes were definitely the favorite item!

Another great feature of this salad is that the ingredients can all be prepared in advance. You can cook a couple pounds of chicken ahead of time and use half for one meal (or freeze it) and save the other half for this salad later on. You can also roast the sweet potatoes and whip up the dressing ahead of time. Then all you have to do is open a can of beans and a can of corn and you’re ready to go.

It seems like everyone on the web is working on some diet or another. I’m not, but I do look for nutritious meals that don’t sacrifice taste. This is one of them! High in lean protein and veggies, this chipotle southwestern salad is a winner on our table–speaking of which, I’m (very) happy to report that our family now has a dinner table! As in, an actual hardwood-not-cardboard dinner table. Complete with chairs. Woot!

Chipotle Southwestern Salad with Creamy Avocado-Lime Dressing

Chipotle Southwestern Salad

Inspired by Pinch of Yum

Ingredients

  • 1 head romaine lettuce
  • 1 lb sweet potatoes
  • 2 TBS oil
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp coriander
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp chipotle chili powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/2 recipe chipotle-lime chicken
  • 1 recipe avocado-lime dressing , cut into bite-sized pieces
  • cotija or queso fresco cheese, optional

Instructions

Preheat oven to 425* and line a baking sheet with foil.

Peel and chop sweet potatoes into bite-sized pieces and place on the foil-lined baking sheet. Toss with 2 TBS oil and spices, using your hands to ensure they are evenly coated. Spread into a single layer on the pan and roast at 425* for 15 minutes. Flip/stir the sweet potatoes on the pan and roast for an additional 10-15 minutes or until they are beginning to brown. Set aside to cool.

Arrange lettuce on salad plates and top with sweet potatoes, beans, corn, chicken, green onions and cheese if desired. Serve with avocado-lime dressing.

Serves 4-6.

http://www.raspberriesintherough.com/chipotle-southwestern-salad/
creamy avocado cilantro lime dressing

Creamy Avocado-Lime Dressing

creamy avocado cilantro lime dressing

I never ate salads as a kid. There was a divide in our family—there were the salad eaters and the steamed veggie eaters, and of course mom and dad, who ate both. It seems like most of the time we had salad and steamed veggies on the table so everyone was happy (well, I don’t know about mom who went to all that work…)

It seems like just about everyone who gives advice for helping kids eat veggies (or anything, really) suggests ranch dressing. Apparently it’s the universal kiddie dip. Well guess what? I never liked ranch as a kid. Nope. Everyone I knew did, but not me. No salads, no dressing.

Fortunately I had an epiphany in my mid-teens. My mom made us a salad dressing one night. It was a sweet-tangy onion vinaigrette, and I discovered that salad is AWESOME. I changed my ways from that day forward and now I would rather eat a good salad than just about anything else.

So in a nutshell, the secret to a great salad is a great dressing. If you open my fridge you will find zero bottles of dressing. Salad dressing must be created in my kitchen. I promise I don’t make my own ketchup, mustard, Worcestershire sauce or most other condiments though. I am somewhat normal (maybe? I hope?)

Most dressings that I make honestly only take a few minutes to whip up. It’s just a matter of tossing a few things in a blender. This one is no exception. Only 6 ingredients and a whirl away to a dressing that will have you licking the blender clean.

Cilantro-lime ranch is always a favorite for Latin-themed salads, and I love it. Unfortunately mayonnaise-based dressings aren’t the healthiest choice to slather on that beautiful green salad (not that that ever stops me). This avocado-lime dressing tastes creamy and indulgent but is also very nutritious, made with avocado and plain yogurt. The cilantro and lime flavors are dazzling, with delicious garlicky undertones. I think I actually would go for this dressing over cilantro-lime ranch most of the time.

It’s hard to imagine what wouldn’t taste good with creamy avocado-lime dressing. It’s delicious with grilled meat or fish, as a dip for fresh veggies, a sandwich spread, or drizzled over a fresh green salad or taco salad. It would even shine as a dip for tortilla chips. I’m not above eating it by the spoonful.

Next week I’ll share a great full-meal salad that features this avocado-lime dressing.

creamy avocado cilantro lime dressing

Creamy Avocado-Lime Dressing

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ cup plain yogurt*
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • ½ a ripe avocado
  • 1 cup cilantro, leaves and stems
  • Juice of ½ a lime

Instructions

Place ingredients in the jar of a blender in the order given. Blend until almost smooth and serve. Add a little more water if you want a thinner dressing. Store leftovers in the refrigerator and use within a few days.

*If using thick Greek yogurt, reduce the amount of yogurt and increase the amount of water to achieve the desired consistency.

http://www.raspberriesintherough.com/creamy-avocado-lime-dressing/
Sweet Basil Garden Pasta Salad

Sweet Basil Garden Pasta Salad

School is back in session, and the Sweet Basil Garden Pasta Salad summer harvest is winding down. Even though my kids aren’t school-age yet, school is in here for us—a much more expensive version of school. My husband is working on a second bachelor’s degree, so it really is back to school!

As fun as summer is, I’ve missed having structure in our lives. My husband and I enjoyed a great backpacking vacation in the mountains just after we moved, and then everything was out of whack, with no employment and school not yet in session. Job hunting is the pits. The worst part is having nothing notable to do while you wait for recruiters to review your resume, then wait for them to call you, then wait for them to recommend you to the employers. You get to wait, wait, wait, while your bank account gradually shrivels. Normally I love having my husband home, but there does come a point when I am dying to send him off to work and welcome him home several hours later.

Meanwhile, I tried to donate plasma to put some cash in the bank. Turns out this is a very tricky business. After two failed attempts to get checked in (which involved proving that I actually live here and closed roads), I finally made it in only to learn that my veins were too small. I should have guessed, considering my history of black-and-blue arms from failed IV insertions. No blood money for me.

To make a long story short, I’m glad my hubby at least has a couple classes now so that he can disappear for a few hours of the day and I can pretend to do something useful at home (since we’re sharing a home with my family, my home management to-do list is rather short).

Anyway, you remember the delicious sweet basil vinaigrette I shared last week? Here’s a dish you can whip up with that. It utilizes a number of tasty garden vegetables and is a perfect cool dinner for a hot summer evening. It’s a great variation on a classic pasta salad. gardenpastasalad

If you’ve noticed that the mozzarella in the picture is round, that’s because I used slices of cheese sticks. Oh yeah, we’re classy. You can use fresh mozarella balls if you’re hip, but this is a budget blog…This also makes great leftovers to pack for lunch at school or work for a refreshing meal. Enjoy!

Sweet Basil Garden Pasta Salad

Sweet Basil Garden Pasta Salad

Ingredients

  • ¾ lb dry pasta (whole wheat or regular)
  • 1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 1 medium yellow summer squash, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 14 oz can black olives, halved
  • ½ cup green onions, chopped
  • 1 ½ cups mozzerella cheese, diced into 1/2" cubes
  • 2 cups grilled chicken, diced (optional, omit for vegetarian)
  • 1 recipe sweet basil vinaigrette
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Cook pasta to al dente according to package directions. During the last 5 minutes of cooking time, add the squash to the water and cook until pasta is al dente and the squash is becoming tender. Drain the pasta and squash and rinse with cool water. When pasta and squash are cooled, place in a large bowl and gently stir in the tomatoes, olives, onions, cheese, and chicken. Drizzle salad with the vinaigrette and toss gently to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate for a few hours before serving. Serves 8-10 as a main dish.

http://www.raspberriesintherough.com/sweet-basil-garden-pasta-salad/
Sweet Basil Vinaigrette

Sweet Basil Vinaigrette

After more than a month of absence, I finally have something delicious to share with you. It’s not that I didn’t have anything to share the whole month, but between moving, an awesome backpacking trip, and my husband’s job hunt, I just haven’t been motivated. And since you don’t pay me for this stuff, well, you’ll forgive me, right?

Remember earlier this year when I enthusiastically exhorted you to grow your own food? If you took my advice, it’s payoff time. And even if you didn’t, you can always head to the grocery store. It’ll just cost you a bit more. And now you are wondering why I planted a garden knowing I would be moving at the height of harvest time. It is because I am weird.

As I mentioned in this post, fresh herbs are a very simple way to make your cooking taste like a fancy restaurant dish. With the exception of garden tomatoes, I would rather grow herbs than anything else. Unfortunately I struggle to keep my hands off the basil while it is small. I just want to use it in everything and forget to give it a chance to get big and bushy. Shame on me.

So, imagine my delight when we moved into my parents’ home (yeah, we’re dwellers at the moment) and I found a giant pot brimming with fresh basil.

This recipe for sweet basil vinaigrette is so delicious I could almost drink it. It takes a lot of basil, so be prepared. It’s tantalizing drizzled on salads, fruit, or fresh garden tomatoes and cheese. Actually it’s hard to think of something that it wouldn’t taste good on. I’ll share a fresh garden recipe soon that features this sweet basil vinaigrette.

Sweet Basil Vinaigrette

Sweet Basil Vinaigrette

Ingredients

  • 2 cups tightly packed fresh basil leaves (about ¼ lb)
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 TBS honey
  • 1 TBS sugar (optional)
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • ¾ cup canola oil
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

Place basil, vinegar, garlic, honey, sugar if using, and mustard in the jar of a blender. Blend until desired texture is reached (I like a little texture left from the basil). With blender running on low, add oil in a slow, steady stream. Whisk in the salt and pepper. Use immediately or refrigerate for later use.

http://www.raspberriesintherough.com/sweet-basil-vinaigrette/
strawberry-spinach-salad-sweet-lemon-dressing

Strawberry Spinach Summer Salad with Sweet Lemon Dressing

I confess, I haven’t eaten many strawberry-spinach-salad-lemon-dressing vegetables over the last week or so. Or much fruit, for that matter. I definitely haven’t made any salads, even though I love a good salad. Before you judge the way I feed my family too harshly, may I just say that I’ve had other priorities in my recent past. Things like job interviews, an emergency appendectomy (for my husband, not me), and a car sitting in the shop because its recently replaced transmission stopped working (while I was driving, of course. Cars don’t like me very much. Maybe because I don’t like them)? Balanced meals haven’t really been happening. I find that when my husband isn’t up to eating my food, I don’t have a lot of motivation to cook for myself and my babies, so I’ve been eating, well, leftovers and frozen chicken nuggets. And a lot of jello, which makes my son happy.

I haven’t felt like going to the grocery store to get fresh veggies, but luckily for me, my garden has come to the rescue and started producing a few things—zucchini, lettuce, spinach, and even a few green beans are ready for picking! So, I’m ready to start making some real food again.

One thing I love about this salad is that it has something for everyone to enjoy. Salads that have only crunchy vegetables are hard for my young children to eat, but with this salad, I can dole out some strawberries, apples, and cheese to my toddler and mash some of the berries for the baby. My favorite part is the fresh lemon dressing, which is almost akin to fresh-squeezed lemonade.

strawberry-spinach-salad-sweet-lemon-dressing

Strawberry Spinach Summer Salad with Sweet Lemon Dressing

Ingredients

    Salad:
  • 1/2 head Romaine lettuce
  • 1/2 bag spinach
  • 2 crisp apples, diced
  • ½ cucumber, sliced (optional)
  • 1 1/2 c. sliced strawberries
  • 1/2 c. craisins
  • ½ c. crumbled feta cheese or shredded Parmesan
  • Sweet Lemon Dressing:
  • 2 TBS lemon zest
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 TBS sugar
  • 2/3 c. canola oil

Instructions

Salad:

Tear lettuce leaves and toss with spinach. Add remaining ingredients and toss gently. Serve with sweet lemon dressing.

Sweet Lemon Dressing:

Combine lemon juice, zest, and sugar in a blender. Slowly add the oil while running the blender on low until combined.

http://www.raspberriesintherough.com/strawberry-spinach-summer-salad-with-sweet-lemon-dressing/