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

Ingredients

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

Directions

  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.

Notes

These components also make for an excellent taco!

Pineapple Black Bean Salsa

Adapted from A Hint of Honey
Makes about 4 cups

Ingredients

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

Directions

  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!

Notes

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.

Chipotle-Lime Tuna-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

With spring having officially grace us with its presence, we are often flipping between snow, rain, and sun (sometimes all in the same day.) I don’t know about you all, but I am ready for salad season. I do eat salads all year round but there’s something about summer that makes me crave it as an entree rather than just a side, and I get a lot more creative with my toppings when I’m not sautéing them all just for the warmth.

 

Chipotle-Lime Tuna-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes {{Baking Bytes}}

A few weeks ago I topped a sweet potato with tuna salad and a new era was born. If you’re not normally  a tuna salad fan don’t leave yet! This chipotle-lime crema might just change your mind. Inspired by the chipotle ranch from one of my favorite salads at a local lunch spot, I make mine with plain Greek yogurt for a bit of tang. I love this crema for salads, tacos, eggs, and for dipping quesadillas and I hope you do too.

Chipotle-Lime Crema {{Baking Bytes}}

Tangy yogurt, spicy chipotle peppers, and lime juice are a perfect blend of tart and spicy. A bit of salt rounds it out nicely, and adding garlic is rarely a poor decision. It’s easy to adjust the spice level with makes it great for any tolerance, and you could definitely add cilantro if you’re in to that sort of thing. Not a fan of Greek yogurt? Swap it out for sour cream or mayo as you prefer.

Chipotle-Lime Tuna-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes {{Baking Bytes}}

M’s uncle is an avid fisherman and we read the benefits with pints of home-canned wild-caught Albacore. I’ve always been a tuna fan but this truly takes it to a whole new level. But don’t worry, the canned stuff works just fine here too. Mixing it with the chipotle crema adds a lovely spiciness while maintaining the creamier texture. It’s great for sandwiches, patty melts, wraps, or however you normally eat your tuna salad (let me know in the comments!) but my favorite way is definitely atop a sweet potato.

Chipotle-Lime Tuna-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes {{Baking Bytes}}

The sweetness of the baked potato blends perfectly with the spicy crema. Sautéed bell peppers and red onion brings some color and amps up the South-of-the-border vibe, and a pile of lightly-dressed arugula beneath the whole thing gives it a filling veggie boost. (If arugula isn’t your thing, spinach or kale also work nicely.) Top the whole thing with an extra drizzle of crema, some matchstick-cut radishes, and freshly ground pepper for a light and tasty meal-prep-friendly lunch or dinner.

 

Chipotle-Lime Tuna-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes {{Baking Bytes}}

For leftovers, I heated my sweet potato and tuna for a warming experience, but it’s delicious cold too. You can also easily satiate bigger eaters with bigger potatoes and/or by scaling up the tuna salad portions, and roasting all the potatoes ahead of time means the whole thing can come together right quick. Whether you choose to serve it for lunch or dinner, this tuna salad will be a delicious new twist on a classic.

Chipotle-Lime Tuna-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Serves 4

Ingredients

2-4 large sweet potatoes (depending on how hungry you are)

3-4 cans Albacore tuna
1/4 – 1/2 cup chipotle-lime crema, to taste (below)
1 Tbsp (Caramelized Garlic) olive oil

1 bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced

2 large radishes, cut into matchsticks
5oz arugula (or any leafy greens)

Chipotle-Lime Crema
1  cup plain Greek yogurt, sour cream, or mayo (or combination thereof)
1 large Chipotle pepper in adobo
1 1/2 Tbsp lime juice
1/2 Tbsp adobo sauce
1 large clove garlic (optional)
1/2 tsp (Roasted Garlic) coarse sea salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Prick sweet potatoes with a fork and bake for 40-60 minutes, or until fork tender.
  3. Meanwhile, combine all crema ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Taste and add additional salt, adobo sauce, or lime juice as preferred.
  4. In a small mixing bowl, mash together tuna and 1/4 sauce until well incorporated. Taste and mix in additional sauce as desired. Set aside.
  5. Add olive oil to a small pan over medium heat.
  6. When the oil is simmering, sauté bell pepper and onion until onion is translucent.
  7. In a large mixing bowl, toss greens with 2-4 tablespoons crema until evenly coated. Divide between four plates.
  8. On each plate, add 1/4 of the peppers and onion, sweet potato, and tuna mixture.
  9. Serve garnished with additional crema, radishes, and freshly cracked pepper.

Notes

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