Now is THE TIME for chopped salads. Produce is at its apex – the corn is sweet, the zucchini and cucumbers are inundating backyard gardens and the bell peppers are crunchy and sun-kissed. The vegetables are all but DEMANDING to be mixed into this Mexican Chopped Salad.
My first chopped salad experience, was several years ago at a luncheon date with some girlfriends — I believe it was a local Cheesecake Factory. Women being women, everyone was politely eyeing the salad part of the menu
and ignoring their secret lust for one of those pasta dishes, with the implicit promise that we’d split a piece of cheesecake for dessert. I had settled on a soup/salad combo, but the other members of my group kept lauding over their “chopped salad”. I succumbed to peer pressure and ordered one as well.
It was a very good salad, full of bright flavors and everything chopped “just so”. Just so you didn’t have to shove a lettuce leaf the size of a dinner plate into your mouth. Just so the salad was dressed and tossed so there weren’t any dry patches lurking under the surface. Just so the only thing your knife was needed for was buttering the bread. Just so.
That’s what I was aiming for here, too! Everything chopped, dressed and ready-to-eat. It’s loaded with just about every crunchy, fresh, at-their-peak vegetable in the market, including sweet corn straight from the cob, mild bell peppers and crisp cucumbers and zucchini. Red onion and jalape?o add heat and a can of black beans rounds out the salad and makes it more of a meal.
The whole thing is tossed with a tangy cumin-lime vinaigrette and sprinkled with fragrant, herbal cilantro. This salad is absolutely delicious on its own, but if you like cheese, I’d suggest a sprinkle of feta or queso fresco. It would also be great with some chopped rotisserie chicken or grilled shrimp. There’s so many ways to make it your own. And it’ll stay crisp and fresh for several days in the fridge, so you can have it for dinner one night and lunch the next day. Bonus!
Mexican Chopped Salad
For the salad
- 1 red I used half a red and half an orange for more color, yellow or orange bell pepper, chopped
- 1/3 cup diced red onion
- 1 cup diced zucchini
- 1 cup diced cucumber preferably the hothouse variety
- 1 ear fresh corn kernels cut off the cob
- 1/2-1 jalapeno depending on how much spice you like, minced
- 1 15- ounce can low sodium black beans rinsed and drained
- 1/3 cup roughly chopped cilantro
For the cumin-lime dressing
- 1 large clove garlic minced
- zest of one lime
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
In a large, non-reactive bowl combine the bell pepper, red onion, zucchini, cucumber, corn, black beans, jalapeño and cilantro. Toss to combine.
In a small bowl combine the garlic, lime zest, dijon mustard, cumin, lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Whisk until emulsified. Pour dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Serve chilled or at room temperature.