I’m just gonna come right out there and say it. This is one of my favorite salads of all time. I know, it’s a bold statement, but it’s been on my regular rotation for years now and every time I make it, I wonder why I waited so long since the last time. This salad has a little bit everything: earthy black beans, sweet summer corn, creamy avocado, acidic tomatoes, tangy feta, bright bell peppers, spicy, crisp radishes, and sweet, crunchy jicama, all bound together with a tangy and sweet, garlic and jalapeño-laced, lime-honey dressing. I mean honestly, what’s better than that.
For someone who cooks, man, do I get in food ruts. I’ll eat the same two snacks every day for months (a banana and wasa with cheese). I order the same sushi when I order in (tuna avocado, spicy salmon, eel cucumber). I’ll eat nothing but salads (with romaine, beets, chickpeas, feta, cranberries, red onion, tomatoes, cucumber and balsamic vinegar) every day for weeks. I mean, that’s a delicious salad, but a little variety never hurt anyone. I also get in ingredient ruts. Recently, it’s been chickpeas. I love them. I lovelovelove them. I want to marry them. But I can’t forget that all those other beans out there? They’re really freakin’ good and they deserve a fling too! So every once in a while, I make a concerted effort to make a vat (yes, a vat. I do eat.) of…something else for my lunches.
I’m not going to lie to you. This guy requires a wee bit of chopping. I hate chopping. Hate. I hate chopping almost as much as I hate grape flavored candies (gag). Sadly, it seems that it’s an integral part of cooking; who knew!? But yes, there are a LOT of components to chop for this salad, but the nice thing is that it’s rustic, so there’s no need to get all OC about it. Just get everything into smaller pieces than they initially were in. Well done. Honestly, the magic of this salad comes from the garlic-jalapeño-honey-lime-cilantro vinaigrette. It’s the honey. Well, it’s the sweet honey balanced with the spice from the jalapeno and the umami from the garlic. It weirdly…magical.
The last time I made this, Queens struck again. There was no jicama to be found in any of the 4 stores I went to. In Queens. It’s counter intuitive, I know; shouldn’t we be bleeding jicama? The jicama is usually my favorite part of the salad. It adds a crunchy, fresh sweetness that, I feel, just pushes the salad over the edge. I had to do without jicama this time round, but you should do everything in your power to locate it. If you don’t, the world probably won’t end or anything, but why would you chance it?
Mexican Chopped Salad
Adapted from Self. Serves 4 as a (small) main course.
I usually eat this salad by itself, out of a bowl; I don’t think it needs much. However, it’s good over lettuce, can be served as a side dish to chicken or shrimp or beef or fish, and is delicious served in a tortilla, with cumin lime yogurt (below).
1 can (15.5 oz) black beans, rinsed and well drained
3/4 c chopped seeded tomato
3/4 c chopped peeled jicama
3/4 c fresh corn kernels, uncooked
3/4 c thinly sliced radishes
1 ripe avocado, diced
1 red (or yellow or orange) bell pepper, chopped
1/4 c crumbled feta cheese
Honey- Lime Dressing
1/4 c fresh lime juice
1/4 c olive oil
2 T honey
2 T finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced (or grated on a microplane)
1 tsp finely chopped jalapeño
1 c fat-free Greek yogurt
1 t ground cumin
Juice of 2 limes
Pinch of salt
For serving: flour tortillas
- In a large bowl, toss together all salad ingredients
- In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Toss the salad with the dressing
- In another small bowl, combine the yogurt, cumin, lime juice and salt
- Serve in fresh flour tortilla, dolloped with yogurt sauce