I’m sure I might be a bit unusual, some people might even use the word “odd” (I’m honestly okay with that), but it makes me really happy to come home from the grocery store or market loaded down with all sorts of beautiful, fresh produce. And if I find it for a super duper price, well, let’s just say I’m like a little pig in mud.
I always have fun deciding what to do with my stash of fresh goodies. I’ve been thinking about a Mexican Chopped Salad for a while now, and when I found tiny sweet peppers, red onions, fresh succulent corn and zucchini all on sale this week, I did a little happy dance, knowing it was time to make that south of the border salad happen. I just needed to find one more item; the item that could very likely could win “the ugliest member of the produce aisle” award ………. can you guess?
One small jicama (pronounced ˈhē-kə-mə) is what I need to complete my salad . Jicama is often used in South American cooking. The plant is native to Mexico and jicama is used commonly there in all kinds of dishes. I love to use it in salsas and salads as it gives a lovely, slightly sweet crunch, and doesn’t loose it’s crispness over time. If you’ve never used it before, don’t be surprised when you finally find it looking like a speckly, brown, misshapen potato. There’s lots of goodness hiding under that humble surface. It’s low in calories and high in fiber, potassium, iron and vitamin C. I would describe the taste and texture as a cross between a Asian pear, a potato and an apple. Pick one up next time you’re at the grocery, you may discover a new friend as jicama is not only wonderful diced in salads, but can also be cut in sticks and eaten with dips like hummus and dips.
Back to my Mexican Chopped Salad. It’s the kind of salad I can never get enough of; fresh, vibrantly colored, loaded with flavor. Eating it, makes me feel energetic and healthy. The dressing I created is light and bright, with just a few ingredients; fresh lime juice, honey, a clove of garlic and a splash of oil. A pinch of cumin along with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper finish it off perfectly. I love simple recipes like this.
If you like a little crunch in your salad, like we do, be sure to pick up a package of corn tortillas. That’s what you’ll use to make the crispy topping for this wonderful salad. Just slice them up, drizzle with a bit of oil and pop the pan in the oven till they’re gloriously golden brown; a perfect complement.
Okay, and one little secret I have to share. See how all the veggies are chopped perfectly to the same size. That’s not me. Nope, if I was doing the chopping, they’d be all random sizes. I have this Vidalia Chop Wizard that I’d have a hard time managing without. When I want to make a pot of soup or a salad with lots of chopped veggies in a hurry, I just pull out this little magic chopper and 1-2-3 I’m done!
If you’re craving fresh and delicious, be sure to add these ingredients to your grocery list. Make this Mexican Chopped Salad and enjoy it for dinner along with some grilled chicken, pork or seafood. Then pack it up for lunch the next day, as it keeps quite well. Just a warning though; all your co-workers will be drooling over your delicious, brightly colored lunch. Enjoy!
P.S. Do you love South-of-the-Border cuisine? Be sure to check out our Homemade Flour Tortillas. We’ve gotten over 500 comments from cooks all over the world who have fallen in love with these easy tortillas!
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Mexican Chopped Salad
The freshest, healthiest, most summery salad. It’s loaded with fabulous Southwestern flavor.
- Yield: 6-8 as a side
- Category: Salad
- Cuisine: Mexican, Southwestern
- Ingredients for the dressing:
- ¼ cup fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons honey
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- freshly ground black pepper
- taste and add salt if needed
- Ingredients for the tortilla strips:
- 6 6-inch corn tortillas
- 1 ½ tablespoons canola oil
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- Ingredients for the salad:
- 1 medium head romaine lettuce , chopped in approximately 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 medium bell pepper, diced in 1/4-inch pieces**, I used small orange-hued peppers (the mini ones). Feel free to use whichever color you want.
- ½ medium red onion, diced in 1/4-inch pieces**
- ½ medium jicama, peeled and diced in 1/4-inch pieces**
- 1 medium zucchini, diced in 1/4-inch dice**
- 4 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced into 1/4-inch dice**
- 4 ears corn (if fresh corn is not in season, substitute 1 1/2 cups of sweet, tiny frozen corn)
- 1 1/2 cups canned black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro, plus whole cilantro leaves for garnish, if desired
- For the dressing, combine lime juice, honey, cumin garlic and salt. Stir to combine. In a slow, steady stream, add the oils, stirring continuously with a fork or small whisk. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if needed. Set aside.
- For the corn tortilla strips, preheat oven to 400˚F. Stack corn tortillas on a cutting board. Cut in half. Cut each stack of halves into thin strips, crosswise, about 1/4 inch thick.
- Transfer tortilla strips to a sheet pan. Drizzle with oil. Sprinkle with salt and toss to coat.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, or until light golden brown and crisp. Set aside to cool.
- For the salad, place corn, two ears at a time, in the microwave and cook for 3 1/2 minutes. Remove from microwave with a hot pad and allow to cool for 5 minutes. After cooling, cut bottom end of corn off, about 1 1/2 inches from end. Pull back husk and silks (almost all of the silk should easily pull away). Cut kernels from husks and set aside.
- Combine corn and other salad ingredients in a large bowl. Stir to combine. Add dressing and stir to coat all ingredients. Garnish with cilantro leaves, if desired.
- Serve with tortilla strips on top or place a bowl on the side and let guests help themselves.
*This video demonstrates the microwave corn technique. It’s really quite amazing. The corn husks and silks just pull away. The corn is clean and just slightly cooked, perfect for salads like this.
** Okay, and one little secret I have to share. I have this Vidalia Chop Wizard that I’d have a hard time managing without. It chops onions, carrots, potatoes, peppers, zucchini, jicama, etc. super fast – and all the pieces are uniform size. When I want to make a pot of soup or a salad with lots of chopped veggies in a hurry, I just pull out this little magic contraption and 1-2-3 I’m done!