Southwest Salad

Hello friends, I hope you have been enjoying National Ice Cream Month! Here to offset this sugar rush of a month is the part two of July’s salad trio. We’re headed south of the border with one of my favorite salads in Bozeman.

Southwest Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

One of the perks at my place of employment is a company-sponsored team lunch every two weeks. Because my team is fairly large, we have a few staple places that are likely to be able to seat us. Starky’s Authentic Americana is one such restaurant and I’m never sad when it’s the choice of the day. One of my favorite meals there is their southwest salad: a delicious but still light and healthy experience including pineapple black bean salsa and chipotle ranch dressing. I often get it with chicken for a protein boost but it stands on its own just as well.

Southwest Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

Inspired to make my own copycat, I set out to make a pineapple black bean salsa and a chipotle lime crema tailored to my own preferences. With a few modifications, A Hint of Honey helped me out on the salsa front and Isabella Eats inspired my chipotle lime crema. The crema was featured previously on the blog in my chipotle lime tuna-stuffed sweet potatoes, but I actually originally developed it for this recipe over a year ago! Somehow I’m just now getting around to sharing this salad with you, but hopefully it was worth the wait.

Chipotle Lime Crema {{Baking Bytes}}

The salsa is a joyous mix of fresh pineapple and savory black beans, accompanied by a little lime and the bite of fresh red onion. Over time the flavors marry together perfectly so I highly recommend making your salsa in advance. It keeps well in the fridge for at least a week, at which time I’d devoured all of it. The original recipe calls for cilantro, which I do not eat, but I will only judge you a little if you decide to add it to yours.

Pineapple Black Bean Salsa {{Baking Bytes}}

A base of spinach or romaine is topped with (optionally sautéed) bell pepper and zucchini for some extra veggies and color. I like to add pulled venison/elk or grilled chicken here, but it makes for an excellent vegetarian meal without it. Some pineapple black bean salsa, a handful of tortilla strips, and a drizzle of crema round out the dish into a lovely sweet and spicy combination. You can easily make this recipe vegan by using a non-dairy yogurt for the crema, and skipping the meat and cheese, of course.

Southwest Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

Customize to your heart’s content with additional toppings like avocado or diced tomato (if you must) and then serve to adoring fans for a healthy summer meal that comes together super quickly. Make the salsa and meat ahead of time, and you have an easy 15-minute meal almost ready to go.

Southwest Salad (Taco) {{Baking Bytes}}

Additionally, if you’re not a salad person, combine these components into an awesome taco instead!

Southwest Salad

Inspired by Starky’s Authentic Americana
Serves 4-6


1 Tbsp olive oil, optional
1 medium zucchini, julienne cut
1-2 bell peppers, thinly sliced

5-10oz Spinach/Romaine, to taste
1 1/2 cups pineapple black bean salsa (below)
1 – 1 1/2 cup freshly grated cheddar cheese
1 cup tortilla strips, to taste
1/2 – 1 cup chipotle lime crema

optional toppings: avocado, diced tomato, grilled chicken, pulled venison, etc


  1. (Skip to step 4 if you prefer raw veggies.)
  2. In a medium frying pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering.
  3. Add zucchini and bell peppe, then lightly sauté to preferred tenderness.
  4. In your serving bowl(s), add desired amount of greens.
  5. Layer on zucchini and bell pepper (and top with meat, if using.)
  6. Evenly spoon on pineapple black bean salsa then sprinkle with cheese, tortilla chips, and any additional toppings you want to throw on it.
  7. Drizzle with chipotle lime crema (and freshly ground pepper, if desired) and serve promptly.


These components also make for an excellent taco!

Pineapple Black Bean Salsa

Adapted from A Hint of Honey
Makes about 4 cups


2 cups fresh diced pineapple
1 cup black beans (or just use the whole can if you want)
1/2 cup diced red onion1
1 jalapeño, minced
3 Tbsp lime juice (1-2 limes), to taste
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp (Roasted Garlic or Lime Fresco) sea salt


  1. In a medium bowl, stir together all ingredients until thoroughly combined.
  2. Cover and chill about 30 minutes to allow flavors to blend, or until ready to use.
  3. Great with salads, tacos, chips, and a spoon!


If raw red onion is too strong for you, soak the cut onion in cold water for about 10 minutes, then drain and add to the salsa.


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