Layered Southwest Salad with Spicy Pepitas

The Mexicans sure know how to highlight flavour – avocado, spicy refried beans, chili powder, lime! This Layered Southwest Salad makes a hearty meatless meal with spicy pepitas on top.

As you may know – I am ‘Queen of the Make Ahead ‘  so I often (okay  – maybe always) have portions of my Creamy Black Beans stored in my freezer.   See the recipe notes if you need to make your own black bean mix for the recipe.

I had fun at my Bulk Barn the other day when I found Habanero chili powder and Ancho chili powder.  So I have been experimenting!  Habanero chilis are REALLY hot!  They range from 60,000 to 800,000 on the Scoville Heat Unit Scale depending on the type and growing factors.  Jalapenos run 2,500 to 8,000 for comparison sake.   So.. if you decide to add some Habanero to the spicy pepitas or the creamy black beans you only need a pinch or so.  I added a 1/4 tsp of habanero chili to 1 cup of my basic black bean purée to amp up the flavour.

Back to the make ahead…as we all know… avocados don’t do well in open air.  This salad is best when it has had time to sit at least 30 minutes but more is even better.  You can make the layers -omitting the final avocado, tomato and pepita garnish- up to a day ahead.  Just cover with plastic wrap and let those flavours mingle overnight.  Tomatoes do not do well in the fridge either.

There are raging debates about whether you  should ever refrigerate tomatoes. Conventional wisdom says not to.  It changes the membranes within and makes them mealy.  And a cold tomato definitely has little or no taste.  A green tomato will not ripen in the fridge.  So…refrigeration may save an already ripe tomato from over-ripening and rotting.  If you decide to refrigerate to save the tomato you will sacrifice some flavour.  Be sure to bring it back to room temperature if you do.

spicy-pepita-topping

So just before serving, prepare and add the avocado and tomato layer. Same with the pepitas- you can make them ahead and store in an air tight container at room temperature.  To keep them crunchy garnish the salad with them just before serving.

This would make 2 servings if it is the main meal and 4 or more if it is a side salad.

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Layered Southwestern Salad with Spicy Pepitas
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Passive Time 30 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Salad
  • 3 cups torn greens Romaine works great
  • 4 green onions sliced
  • 1/2 cup red and/or green pepper chopped
  • 1 cup corn kernels I use frozen
  • 1 cup creamed black beans See Note
  • 1/4 tsp habanero chili powder optional or sub regular chili powder
  • 1 1/2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes halved
  • 2 avocados peeled and cubed
Dressing
  • 1 cup Vegan Almond dressing Or substitute 1/2 cup mayo and 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Spicy Pepitas
  • 1/2 cup pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds)
  • 1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pinch of chipotle powder (use a pinch of habanero for even spicier)
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Passive Time 30 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Salad
  • 3 cups torn greens Romaine works great
  • 4 green onions sliced
  • 1/2 cup red and/or green pepper chopped
  • 1 cup corn kernels I use frozen
  • 1 cup creamed black beans See Note
  • 1/4 tsp habanero chili powder optional or sub regular chili powder
  • 1 1/2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes halved
  • 2 avocados peeled and cubed
Dressing
  • 1 cup Vegan Almond dressing Or substitute 1/2 cup mayo and 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Spicy Pepitas
  • 1/2 cup pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds)
  • 1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pinch of chipotle powder (use a pinch of habanero for even spicier)
Layered Southwestern Salad with Spicy Pepitas
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
  1. Clean and tear greens. In an 8" bowl layer greens, then sprinkle onions evenly in a layer, then peppers, then corn.
  2. Mix the habanero powder into the black bean mix and spread evenly over the top of the salad. (See note if you need to make the bean spread).
  3. Spread the Dressing evenly over the surface.
  4. Cover and allow flavours to meld in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. This can be made 8-24 hours ahead at this point.
  5. To prepare pepitas - toss pepitas, oil and spices together. Heat in a skillet over medium high heat until seeds darken and start to dry up. About 8-10 minutes. Stir and watch to make sure they don't burn. Allow pepitas to cool. Store in air tight container if making ahead.
  6. Top with a layer of the avocado and tomato chunks just before serving. Garnish with pepitas.
Recipe Notes

To make a black bean puree -  Roughly purée one 19 oz can of drained and rinsed black beans with  a Tablespoon of cream and /or a few Tablespoons of  green chili sauce or hot salsa.  Experiment til you get the taste and texture you like. Be careful not to turn it into soup though with too much liquid. If you like lots of heat add 1/4 tsp of habanero chili powder per 1 cup of black beans.  Use 1 cup of purée in the salad (or to taste) and reserve remainder for another use.

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