Recipes/ Salads/ Savory

Southwestern Taco Salad with Chipotle Yogurt Dressing

When brainstorming ideas for today’s lunch (and what would surely become lunch for the rest of the week) I challenged myself to think beyond the traditional salad or pasta dish. What would fill me up and keep me hooked all week long, all while staying within the realm of healthy eating?

Creating an exciting meal option is sometimes as simple as re-visioning a standard dish. Perhaps it’s the slightly warmer weather or the promise of spring, but lately I find myself day-dreaming about…Mexican food? Okay, hear me out. Some of my fondest memories are associated with Mexican food; yes – memories of vacation. But also summer nights, seated outside at a cafe, dipping too many tortilla chips in salsa and washing it all down with a sugary tequila concoction.

Perhaps in a few weeks we will have defrosted from the wintry weather. The restaurants will begin to open the floor-to-ceiling windows along the sidewalk, cafe chairs and tiny circular tables spilling out to the curb. And I will be warm enough (oh – to not be huddled under layers of sweaters and coats!) to order a frosty margarita, not a glass of red wine. I digress.

The point is, this week I am reinventing my standard salad, adding smoky flavors and southwestern ingredients. And it’s so easy! Let this taco salad hold you over until we’ve thawed – and I’ll see you on the other side (with a very, very, very large margarita).

Ingredients for salad:

1 heart of romaine (or a bag of romaine lettuce), cleaned

1/4 cup of avocado, cubed

1/2 a small Roma tomato

1/4 cup of black beans, drained and rinsed

1/4 cup of corn kernels (I used defrosted frozen white corn)

1/4 cup of a bell pepper, chopped

6-8 baby carrots, chopped

1-2 tablespoons of shredded cheddar cheese

1/4 cup of salsa (I used Trader Joe’s Autentica Salsa)

Sliced lime for garnish and flavor

Ingredients for dressing:

3/4 cup of plain nonfat Greek yogurt

1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (I used Goya and saved the remaining peppers by bagging and freezing them)

Directions:

Once the lettuce has been rinsed and dried (I pulled apart the leaves and ran them under water, then dried with paper towels), bundle them together and use a large knife to chop into strips and chunks. Check out my stylish ombre lettuce below!

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Place in a large bowl and add all of the vegetable toppings (corn, bell pepper, avocado, carrots, beans, and tomato).

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To make the dressing, use a blender (immersion or traditional blender) or a food processor. Scoop in the Greek yogurt and add one chipotle pepper.

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Blend together until the yogurt has become an even shade of pink, indicating that all of the yogurt and pepper have fully combined. You can also stir with a spoon after blending to ensure that the ingredients are fully mixed.

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Top the salad with 1/4 cup of salsa (a couple of spoonfuls), all or some of the chipotle yogurt dressing, and shredded cheddar cheese. Finish with a squeeze of lime and mix everything together for a creamy, healthy southwestern treat! I ate my salad with a mini whole wheat pita – I placed it under the broiler for 5 minutes until toasty and used it to scoop up the salad.

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