I’m surprised it took me so long to get this type of salad up on the blog because a Southwest salad is my favorite! It’s fresh, flavorful and filling – this is definitely a meal. I make my version with bell peppers, black beans, diced tomatoes, fresh sweet corn, cilantro, pepitas, and pepper jack cheese. The creamy avocado salsa dressing is worth the effort and to really take it up a notch, make some crispy homemade tortilla strips!
Southwest Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing
- 3 heads romaine lettuce, chopped
- 1 cup fresh corn kernels
- 1 orange bell pepper, diced
- 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
- 1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
- ½ cup roasted and salted pepitas
- ⅓ cup cilantro
- ½ cup shredded pepper jack cheese or more to taste
- Tortilla strips, store bought or I like to make my own, see below
- More avocado, optional
- 4 corn tortillas
- 1 small avocado, peeled and sliced
- 1 small jalapeno, seeded and roughly chopped (optional)
- 1 garlic clove, peeled
- ¼ cup loosely packed cilantro
- ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
- ¼ cup medium salsa
- ¼ cup milk (dairy or non-dairy)
- Juice from 1 lime
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ¼ tsp ground cumin
- ⅛ tsp smoked paprika
- ¼ tsp Kosher salt
- ⅛ tsp freshly ground pepper
- Hot sauce to taste, optional
To make homemade tortilla strips, brush or spray 4 corn tortillas with olive oil. Slice into 1” strips and arrange on a baking sheet so they’re not touching. Broil 2-4 minutes per side, or until they’re golden and browning. Keep a close eye on the time as they can brown quickly.
Add all of the Creamy Avocado Salad Dressing ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Add hot sauce and additional salt and pepper to taste. Add additional milk to thin to desired consistency if needed. Color of dressing will shift over time as it oxidizes.
Add salad ingredients to a large bowl except for the tortilla strips and toss to combine. Garnish salad with tortilla strips and more salt and pepper to taste.
• If you have time to char your corn in the skillet for a few minutes, it adds a nice smoky quality. You can char frozen or fresh corn in a cast iron skillet.
• The dressing can be made up to 24 hours ahead and refrigerated to save time day of.
• This salad would be great with cilantro lime grilled shrimp or chicken.