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Monday, March 24, 2014

Southwestern Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing

salad with avocado dressing
Southwestern Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing
 We ate this salad on my sister Julia's birthday last month. Funny, we seem to be in the habit of eating salad on her birthday, probably because we always know we're ending the evening with a mega-indulgent dessert! (Last year's birthday salad was Grilled Steak and Vegetable Salad with Chipotle Chimichurri Dressing, a huge hit!)
avocado dressing
My brother-in-law and I came to an agreement--I'd happily pick up the ingredients and prepare the dinner, so long as he promised to be on clean up duty. I will always make this deal, as cleaning up is my least favorite part of cooking!
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Needless to say, preparing this dinner was more fun than usual, since I didn't worry about cleaning as I went. I think Nate was a little overwhelmed when he entered the kitchen to find the stacks and piles of dishes awaiting him. (Don't tell Nate, but I was totally preparing a few things at once, hence the extra dishes...if you make this salad you need not worry about excessive amounts of dishes!)
avocado dressing

Even if this salad did require lots of dishes, it would be worth it. This is the type of salad you'd find on a restaurant menu, but it is totally doable (even easy!) in your own home. I couldn't resist making a rainbow presentation on the serving platter, but you could just as easily toss it all in a large bowl from the start. Get creative with what ingredients you include--corn, chopped bell peppers, and chickpeas would all be excellent additions or substitutions. I don't recommend going with another dressing--the creamy avocado dressing was our favorite part!

One Year Ago: Finding Time in 2013: Pastaria
Two Years Ago: Sourdough Pancakes and Ghirardelli Brownies with Chocolate Ganache
Three Years Ago: Vacation Eats-Nashville & Charleston Part I and Part II
Four Years Ago: Bulgur Salad with Citrus, Toasted Almonds, Feta, and Spinach and an Arizona Recap

Southwestern Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing
inspired by Cooking Light's Smoked Chicken Cobb Salad

-8-10 cups chopped mixed greens
-4 slices bacon, cooked and diced
-2 large chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
-1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
-1/4 cup chopped red onion
-1/2 cup chopped cilantro
-1 cup chopped tomato
-1/2 cup shredded Mexican cheese

for the dressing-
-2 avocados
-1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
-2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
-1/2 tsp kosher salt
-1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-1/4 cup water, plus more if desired

1. To make the dressing, combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend/process until smooth. If runnier dressing is desired, add additional water, 1 tbsp at a time. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
2. To arrange the salad, spread mixed greens on a large platter. Spread remaining ingredients on top of mixed greens in rows as desired. Just before serving, toss to combine and serve with dressing.