When it comes to food flavors, it’s hard to pick a favorite. There’s something to love about every type of cuisine there is. And for me, the more flavorful, the better. One that I have sort of forgotten about lately, is the Southwestern flavor. In all my years of travel, when I headed to Texas and anywhere west beyond, Southwest food was what I looked forward to the most. Southwest food is basically a fancy way of saying rustic, Americanized Mexican food. Mexican, Southwest, whatever…it’s all completely craveable in my book.
While in Houston one year, I discovered a Southwest Caesar salad that was absolutely to die for! The Southwest Caesar Salad was romaine lettuce built up with black beans, corn, peppers and mixed with a delicious, smoky caesar dressing, then topped with cojita cheese and crispy, tri-colored tortilla strips. AHHH-mazingness in a big bowl. I don’t know what made me think of that Southwest Caesar Salad the other day, but after it crossed my mind, I wanted to recreate Southwest Caesar Salad at home and also try to make it as healthy as possible.
As ya’ll well know by now, I try to make as much from scratch as possible and absolute musts, as of late, are salad dressings. Honestly, there’s just no comparison to a homemade dressing. They really are the reason I eat so many more salads now. I can’t believe I bought the bottled stuff for as long as I did! Anyway, we’re also all aware that creamy caesar dressing isn’t exactly waistline friendly. Except today. Yes, my friends, we have made over caesar dressing and you can eat it to your little heart’s desire. All thanks to one of the greatest food inventions known to man…Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt has become one of those standard grocery list items I buy every time I go to the store whether I need it or not. If a natural disaster were to hit tomorrow, I’d be armed with toilet paper, cucumber/green tea Dove bar soap and Greek yogurt. So random…
Southwest Caesar SaladSERVES 4 PrintDownload
- Southwest Caesar Salad :
- 8-10 cups chopped romaine lettuce, about 2 heads of lettuce
- 1 cup cooked black beans, 1 can or can make your own. See below to make your own.
- 1 cup corn kernels
- 1 cup diced, fresh red pepper (about 1 medium pepper)
- 1/3 cup diced red onion
- 1 avocado, diced in 1 inch cups
- 4 oz of cojita cheese, crumbled or crumbled goat cheese
- Dressing :
- (makes about 1 cup)
- 3/4 cup non fat, plain Greek yogurt
- 1 Tbsp of white balsamic vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 1 Tbsp of anchovy paste
- juice of 1 lemon, about 2 Tbsp
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp of maple syrup or honey
- 1/4 tsp of celery seeds
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1-2 Tbsp of olive oil
- 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (comes canned)
- To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a small food processor and blend until smooth. Set aside while you make the salad.
- To assemble the salad. Chop the romaine lettuce into bite size pieces. Lightly toss with about 1/4-1/3 cup of the dressing. Add the black beans, corn, onion, red pepper, cheese and avocado. Serve the remaining dressing at the table in case anyone wants more.
- If you'd like to make your own black beans, start by rinsing 1/2 cup of dried beans in a colander. In a medium saucepan, bring the dried beans and about 2 cups of water to a boil. Boil for 1 minute and then remove the beans from the heat. Cover them and allow them to sit for 1 hour. Drain off the water, rinse the beans again and add them back to the pot with another 4 cups of water or broth. If you're cooking them in just water, you can also add about 1/4 of a white or yellow onion and 1 tsp of salt for flavor. Cook the beans over medium high heat for about 1- 1 1/2 hours until the beans are tender, but not mushy.
- * Since you only use about a tablespoon of the chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, you'll be left with basically an entire can of unused peppers. Not to worry...I'll be sharing another couple recipes using the peppers. If you don't want to waste the rest of the can, fill up a couple slots in an empty ice cube tray. Freeze into cubes and then transfer the cubes into a storage baggie. This way you can just grab a frozen cube of peppers when you need it.