Salads can be costly.
I’m not talking about the lettuce, or the vegetable toppings, or even the dressings…
I needed to buy a bigger pannier for my bike when I started to eat huge salads at work. One container for the lettuce, another for the toppings and another for the dressing. It takes up a lot of room, but the fresh salad is definitely worth it.
Last year, I lamented that my Mexican salad with the creamy avocado dressing needed to be eaten soon after assembly. Once dressed, lettuce doesn’t last that long (more the power to wilted kale salads!). This year, when I spotted a tomato-based Mexican salad at Namaste Gurl, I was smitten. Her salads were gorgeous and while her tomato-based dressing seemed quite unorthodox, it sounded delicious. If I kept all the components separate, I knew I could enjoy this salad all week long. :)
Sauces and dressings are what clinch a meal. Fresh, tasty produce helps, too, but oftentimes the dressing pulls it all together. And in this salad, the dressing is what really shines. It is a light, silky smooth tomato and red pepper sauce with a hint of cheese from nutritional yeast, smokiness from smoked paprika and zip from the chili flakes. Cumin and oregano keep this Mexican. You could add your favourite vegetables to the mix, to replace the cabbage, but I highly recommend the red pepper which conferred a sweet silkiness to the dish, almost as if it were roasted. I have never pureed my tomato sauces, but this dressing was so creamy because I used my immersion blender to make it smooth. The sauce was so good, I had to stop myself from gobbling it up straight from the stovetop.
Instead, I held out to use it as the dressing for this Mexican salad with black beans, cherry tomatoes, and avocado overtop mixed greens. Be creative with your toppings – add in some whole grain crackers, fresh bell pepper, cucumber, etc. Romaine worked well with this combination as well. I bet there are countless things this sauce could be used for, and I am sure I will whip it up again when I make my first batch of zucchini noodles!
Mexican Salad with Black Beans, Tomato, Avocado in a Creamy Tomato Sauce
2 cups mixed baby greens (or Romaine, chopped)
1/4 cup Mexican Tomato Sauce (recipe follows)
1/4 cup cooked black beans
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 avocado, sliced
1. When ready to serve, plate lettuce, dress with the the tomato sauce and top with black beans, tomatoes and avocado.
Mexican Tomato Sauce
1 tbsp olive oil (or oil of choice)
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup cabbage, thinly sliced (or your favourite vegetable)
14.5 oz can whole tomatoes
1.5 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp oregano (I used Mexican oregano)
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp Aleppo chili flakes
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Start by heating a medium saucepan with oil, then add onion, red pepper and cabbage and saute for a few minutes. Add garlic and saute until soft and translucent.
2. Add in tomatoes, vinegar, tomato paste, smoked paprika, oregano, cumin, chili flakes and nutritional yeast, and bring to a boil. Simmer 5-10 minutes until you reach your desired consistency. Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth.
Makes 2 cups.