I love Mexican food. It’s my favorite type of cuisine, by far. The big drawback of most Mexican food, though, is that it’s almost always terribly unhealthy. Fried tortillas in chip and myriad other forms, various cheeses, and lard-laden refried beans, and you haven’t even finished the appetizers! I set out to find a healthy dish that would satisfy my cravings without making me hate myself later and what I found blew my mind. Chopped salads are one of my new favorite things, and this one packs all the flavor of my Mexican cravings, plus a few surprising new tastes and textures, into one nutritious bowl. All the ingredients are cut into similarly-sized pieces making each bite cohesive, yet a little different so you’re not bored with your salad halfway through. Jicama, or Mexican turnip, adds a fresh, light sweetness with a toothsome crunch (similar to a water chestnut in texture), and honey-lime-chipotle vinaigrette adds a little spice and loads of bright flavor without weighing down all your fresh veggies.
Here’s what you’ll need (amounts are approximate; you want comparable amounts of all the veggies):
For the salad:
- 1 small red, orange, or yellow bell pepper, finely diced
- 1 medium zucchini, finely diced
- 4-5 plum (Roma) tomatoes, seeded and finely diced (you can reserve some of the tomato goo for the dressing if you like)
- 1/2 medium red onion, finely diced
- 1 small jicama, peeled and finely diced
- 1 c. fresh corn removed from the cob, or frozen
- 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 small head Romaine lettuce, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1/4-1/2 c. finely chopped cilantro (to taste)
For the dressing:
- 1/2 c. freshly-squeezed lime juice
- 2-3 T. honey
- 1 large garlic clove, pressed or very finely minced
- 2 T. olive oil
- 2 T. vegetable oil
- 1/4 t. cumin
- 1/4 t. chipotle powder (to taste)
- Pinch of salt and pepper (white, if you have it)
I like to make the dressing first so it has some time for the spices to open up and meld. Using a small bowl and a whisk, or, better yet, a small jar with a tight lid, combine the lime juice, honey, oils, and spices and shake (or whisk) like crazy. Set aside.
Next, dice all of your veggies in as equally-sized pieces as you can—try for about 1/4-inch cubes. Once you have all of your veggies chopped, the hard part is over. Add them to a large bowl and toss.
Drain and rinse the beans and add them to the veggies and toss again so all everything is evenly distributed.
Give the dressing another good shake, pour over the salad, and toss one last time.
If you want to make this salad ahead of time, just leave the dressing in the jar and refrigerate everything. Add the dressing just before serving.