Southwest Summer Salad

Here is a spicy, savory meal that makes great use of prime summer produce — corn, tomatoes, lettuce, and avocados — in one delicious salad.  This is a crowd pleasing superstar, as it’s dairy and gluten free, vegan, deliciously nutritious, and easy to do much of the prep in advance.

Southwest Summer Salad

This salad uses one of my prior recipes, Spicy Tofu Crumbles.  If you would prefer, you may substitute grilled chicken breast for the tofu crumbles.  The quick to make dressing can be adjusted for spiciness depending on your preference.  (for Hannah & Caleb) Enjoy!

Southwest Summer Salad
(all quantities are dependent on number of servings needed)

romaine lettuce, washed and cut
tomatoes, rough chop large tomatoes, or halve cherry tomatoes
fresh sweet corn – kernels cut off cobs, sauteed briefly in a little olive oil, then cooled to room temp.
avocado, peeled and diced
bell pepper, chopped
fresh cilantro, chopped
pinto beans, cooked and cooled
toasted pepitas
Spicy Tofu Crumbles
Chipotle Lime Dressing (recipe below)

Assemble all ingredients in a large shallow bowl.  Dress the salad just before serving.  Add tortilla chips for extra crunch.

Chipotle Lime Dressing
3 TB fresh squeezed lime juice
6 TB extra virgin olive oil
1/2 to 1 tsp. chipotle powder (depending on how spicy your like dressing)
1/2 tsp. sea salt
2 cloves fresh garlic, pressed

Cilantro Garlic Lime Sauce

At once a dressing and a dipping sauce, this green concoction is fresh, tangy, fragrant and irresistibly full of cilantro and lime.
Cilantro Garlic Lime Sauce bottleI’ve made many versions of this sauce to pour on grilled steak, but decided to give it a try on grilled chicken and with cooked rice.  It was fabulous on both.  It would also pair well with grilled vegetables or shrimp.
Cilantro Garlic Lime Sauce chicken
Cilantro Garlic Lime Sauce ingredientsThis sauce makes a great dressing for a salad with romaine, tomatoes, and chunks of avocado.  An immersion blender makes quick work of this sauce.  Store in the fridge for up to a week.  For Calvin, my best sous chef.  Enjoy!

Cilantro Garlic Lime Sauce
makes about one cup sauce

1 big bunch fresh cilantro, rinsed and rough chopped, about 2 cups lightly packed
3 cloves fresh garlic, crushed
juice and zest of two fresh limes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 tsp. sea salt
Habanero hot sauce*, to taste (Tabasco may be substituted)

Use a blender to whirl all ingredients until vibrant green and smooth, about 30 seconds.  Taste for acid/salt balance.  This is an important step.  Working with fresh ingredients means that measurements of key ingredients will need to be adjusted to suit your taste and the ingredients you are using.


*note:  To give this sauce some kick I used 15 shakes of a killer good house made habanero sauce called Xni Pec from Cafe Capistrano in Half Moon Bay, CA.  Its intense floral note is retained because it’s not heat processed.  This sauce is amesomely addictive.  The habanero puree in the photo above also works nicely.

Summer Corn Salad

Sweet corn!  Tender sweet corn is one of my favorite treats in summer.  It is at its peak at my market, along with deep red tomatoes and creamy-rich avocados.
Summer Corn SaladHere is my recipe for a simple summer treat featuring sweet corn in the starring role.  I serve it as a salad or side dish, depending on what else is on my menu.  This is a fabulous picnic dish, as it’s easy to make ahead of time and tastes best at room temp.

Summer Corn Salad

4 ears fresh sweet corn, kernels cut off the cobs
2 large ripe tomatoes*, cut into bite sized chunks
2 large avocados, cut into bite sized chunks
1/4 cup good quality olive oil, divided
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
sea salt
1/2 tsp. chipotle powder
2 limes – juiced

Heat a large saute pan over high heat until medium hot.  Add 2 TB olive oil to pan, then the sweet corn kernels, and saute just until the kernels begin to turn from opaque to semi-transparent.  They may take on a bit of brown at the edge of the pan — this is good and adds flavor to the salad.  Total cooking time should be 5 – 6 minutes.  Turn the corn out into a bowl and cool until room temperature.

Using a fine rasp, zest one of the limes.  Then juice both of the limes.  In the bottom of a large bowl mix together the remaining olive oil, the lime juice and zest, about 1/2 tsp. sea salt, and chipotle powder.  To this dressing add the corn, avocado chunks, tomato chunks, and cilantro.  Gently toss, taking care not to mash the avocado.  Adjust seasoning.  Serve cool or at room temperature.

*feel free to use cherry tomatoes, halved, if you prefer  – or if that’s whats growing in your garden.