Have you ever seen such a vibrant salad? This southwestern salad is loaded up with unique flavors, tons of protein and provides an incredible crunch that you just can’t find with other salads. We’re going to start with a sturdy Mexican slaw base and load on the toppings from there. If you’re looking for a salad that satisfies, stick with me on this recipe!
This southwestern salad recipe is: Gluten Free, Paleo Friendly and loaded with flavor.
YUMMY SOUTHWESTERN SALAD
At my catering company, we had a wonderful southwestern salad that was one of our best sellers. Our customers kept coming back time and again because the flavors were surprising… most people thought that it would be way too spicy with all the peppers and chipotle salad dressing. But that’s the cool part of this salad, all the flavors play off one another.
What I love most about this salad is just how good it is for you. It’s PACKED full of protein. Some of the biggest contributors are the yellow corn, cheddar cheese, avocado, red cabbage, red onions and the cherry tomatoes. I would definitely call this salad a protein power bowl. Unlike a lot of salads that are laden with heavy dressings and toppings, this one will have you raring and ready to go right after you eat it.
If you want to add other southwestern ingredients to this salad to increase the protein potential even more… go ahead! This salad loves pepitas, sunflower seeds, black beans, crumbled Queso Fresco or simple slices of avocado.
TACO BOWLS: ALL THE TOPPINGS
If you’re more comfortable calling this salad a taco bowl, I wouldn’t be offended in the least. It has so many wonderful toppings that fare perfectly well on both tacos and fajitas. We have some traditional toppings as well as non-traditional toppings that make these perfect for your next Taco Tuesday get together.
We start with an incredible Mexican slaw that has the slightly bitter red cabbage and sweet carrots. The romain provides a nice pop of crispness and neutrality that helps to mellow out some of the more intense ingredients. You can dress this slaw with the Chipotle salad dressing and not worry about it wilting for a long time. If you’re using this on a taco, make sure that you slice the cabbage small enough so it will fit!
The four remaining toppings were designed to work well with one another. You are going to see that the salsa has a bright, vibrant flavor profile which plays nicely against the more savory sauteed peppers and onions. The most surprising and wonderful topping is the Pickled Onion and Corn Relish. You just have to try this one. The onions are spicy with a nice zip. It’s just lovely.
The proverbial “cherry on top” for this southwestern salad is a fresh green guacamole. It provides a nice mellow flavor. My suggestion is to make extra guacamole. It simply evaporates off our table somehow.
CHIPOTLE SALAD DRESSING
If you’ve never had chipotle salad dressing, you’re in for a real treat. We made enough of this salad dressing at our catering company that we needed to buy the chipotle sauce in half gallon containers. It’s got everything you need for a southwestern salad or taco bowl: the spice from the chipotle sauce, vibrancy from the lime and body from the olive oil.
You can make this dressing with olive oil, canola oil or a blend. It is NOT good with very high quality olive oil. The fruity almost bitter flavor doesn’t play well with the chipotle sauce. The more flavor neutral the oil, the better.
Want to make it a creamy chipotle salad dressing? Easy. Add in 1/4 cup of sour cream and 1/4 cup of mayonnaise. Whisk well and you’ve got a creamy southwestern dressing perfect for this salad or try it on a baked potato with some chorizo. Super yummy.
QUICK COOKING TIP: So the prep for this salad takes a long time. There is a lot of chopping, slicing and dicing. The good news is that you can make just about everything ahead of time.
- Pickle the onions the day before. After you add in the vinegar and spices, seal up the onions and refrigerate overnight.
- Make the salsa the day before. It will be absolutely delicious right out of the fridge.
- If you make the guacamole ahead of time, be sure to pack it down in the container with some plastic wrap. The more airtight the seal the less it will turn brown.
- The sauteed onions and peppers can be made several days in advance and held in the refrigerator.
- I would slice the cabbage and lettuce the day you are going to use it. Unless you are using a ceramic knife, it will start to turn brown.
With a little planning, this is a really easy recipe. Plus, you can make some chicken or steak fajitas with any leftover toppings. So yummy.
Ok. Let’s get to this super delicious southwestern salad recipe!
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE SOUTHWESTERN SALAD RECIPE:
Oh what crunch. What flavor! This is a delightful salad. I think it is funny that I spend so much time putting together this salad so it looks absolutely delicious… then mix it all together which doesn’t look so great but tastes incredible.
If you have leftover peppers and onions… plan on making my Fajita Frittata Recipe the next day. It is super easy and loves being topped with salsa and guacamole too. What a way to start your day!
What are some of your favorite toppings for either tacos or other southwestern goodies? Let me know in the comments. I hope you love this salad as much as we do! Happy eating.