Southwestern Salad with Avocado Cilantro Dressing

Salads are a huge part of my diet and not just since I went vegan. I feel lucky to have been raised eating salads with most meals and I have adopted this as a normal routine. My mom would almost always opt to make our salad dressings from scratch, a skill I believe to be very beneficial. After all, there are many reasons that salad dressings are at the top of my list of foods that are better homemade. Somewhere snuggled between chocolate chip cookies and marinara sauce, salad dressing is just one of those things that is not the same when it’s been mass produced and put into a package or a bottle just to sit on the shelf for who knows how long. 

Taste is not the only reason for choosing to make my salad dressings in my own kitchen. After reading Eat To Live (a book I highly recommend and is featured on my resources page), I was encouraged to decrease the amount of oils I use in my diet. As pointed out in the book, oils have a very high caloric density with relatively small nutrient density. Essentially, you don’t get much bang for your buck with oils! Preparing dressings at home is an easy way to control every ingredient, avoiding the high oil content in bottled dressings, not to mention any other preservatives and things I’d prefer not to ingest. That’s why I started to work on creating different salad dressings make with whole foods and did not use as much oil, like my favorite Peanut-Ginger dressing(has a tiny bit of sesame oil for flavor but can be omitted).

The other day, I had a few ripe avocados that needed to be eaten before they went bad. I had planned on having salad for dinner and was thinking I would add them on top with a balsamic vinaigrette. But then I remembered my goal of using less oil and I decided to use the avocados to make the actual dressing instead. The healthy fats in the avocados would provide flavor and creaminess while also bringing other vitamins, micro-nutrients and fiber to the dressing. 

vegan southwestern salad avocado cilantro dressing

That’s how I create this creamy (and vegan!) Avocado Cilantro dressing packed with freshness from the cilantro, spice from the garlic and jalapeno, and just the right amount of brightness from the lime. To create a hearty meal out of the salad, I topped the romaine lettuce with some fajita vegetables, corn, black beans and a few slices of Gardein chick’n.


Southwestern Salad with Avocado Cilantro Dressing
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
15 min
For the Salad
  1. 1 head of romaine lettuce
  2. 1 can of black beans
  3. 1 cup of corn(fresh or frozen)
  4. 1 cup of red onion
  5. 1 cup of diced bell peppers (any color or a mixture)
  6. 1-2 tablespoons of vegetable broth (or water)
  7. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  8. 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  9. salt and pepper to taste
For the Avocado Cilantro Dressing
  1. 2 avocados
  2. 1-2 limes, juice of
  3. 1 bunch fresh cilantro
  4. 1 fresh jalapeño
  5. 1 clove of garlic
  6. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  7. water as needed
  1. Chop the onion and bell peppers.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a skillet and add the onion and bell peppers, cooking over medium heat until brown on the edges.
  3. Add the cumin to the skillet along with the vegetable broth or water and stir.
  4. Add the corn to the skillet and cook until the corn is softened slightly.
  5. Set vegetable mixture aside to cool.
  6. Add all dressing ingredients to a food processor and mix until smooth, adding water or more lime juice as needed to create the desired consistency.
  7. **If using Gardein Chick'n, cook them according to the package instructions. Once heated through, sliced or dice the piece and return to pan with a teaspoon of cumin and 1-2 tablespoons of vegetable broth. Stir until the chick'n is well-coated and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly before placing on top of the salad.
  8. Rinse and chop the romaine lettuce and place in a large bowl with the cooled veggies and black beans. Add the dressing and toss until everything is mixed and well coated.
  9. Serve immediately.
  1. **This salad is great topped with some sliced Gardein Chick'n as seen in the picture.
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