At the heart of many of our culinary choices lies the question: How can we incorporate elements of Mexican food into this? We are addicted to all aspects of this gastronomical style, and all the ways it has evolved. Smoked chilis find their way into damn near everything we can sneak them into. We love slow-cooked, spicy meats that can keep for a long time and help build any dish up with protein and flavor. We also love that sauces and salsas are the bases for dishes rather than proteins. Naturally, the very first power salad we ever made was borne from craving Mexican food. The recipe is based what you’d find in a taco salad, but this one packs more of a punch and is way healthier for you. Starting with shredded kale, we add fresh elements of pico de gallo (tomato, cilantro, onion) and then boost the protein content with seasoned ground meat and black beans. It’s all tossed together with a tart and spicy sauce made from nonfat greek yogurt and whatever kind of salsa you’re feeling at the moment. Depending on your mood, the toppings can include (but are not limited to) cheese, lime, avocado, crunched up tortilla chips, escabeche, or even jicama spears. This salad is a customizable, vitamin laden, rich and hearty burrito bowl fever dream that leaves you feeling full. It’s one of our favorites.
Southwestern Power Salad:
- ½ lb. lean ground meat of preference (Note: We prefer turkey for this recipe since it tends to be more healthy, but this is really up to you. There’s no wrong choice. Extra firm tofu cooked like taco meat is delicious with this salad if you’re looking for a vegetarian interpretation.)
- ½ small red onion, diced
- 1 tbs. ground cumin
- 1 heaping tbs. dried Mexican oregano
- 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
- ½ tsp. ground cayenne pepper
- Salt to taste
- 1 bunch of kale, de-stemmed, shredded
- 1 bunch of cilantro sheared of its leaves (some stems are okay), and roughly chopped
- 1 15-oz. can of black beans, rinsed
- 1 tomato, diced
- ½ small red onion, shaved
- ¼ cup nonfat greek yogurt
- ¼ cup salsa of choice (smooth, not chunky) (Note: We like smoky salsas the most for this recipe. If you can swing it, try and find a salsa that is chipotle, ancho, or morita based.)
- Shredded cheese
- Sliced avocado
- Lime wedges
- Smashed tortilla chips, preferably Juanita's (duh.)
- Jicama spears
In a sauté pan on medium high heat, sweat the onions with enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. When they are translucent, reduce heat to medium low and add the ground protein. Cook until the moisture seeps out and starts to simmer slightly. Add the cumin, oregano, garlic, and cayenne. Cook together until moisture is almost completely reduced and protein is completely cooked. Add salt to taste and set aside, allowing it to cool somewhat.
In a large bowl, combine kale, cilantro, black beans, tomato, and red onion and toss. Hands work best. Pour the yogurt and salsa into the bowl and evenly incorporate the dressing into the salad. Portion the salad into bowls and place the protein on top. Serve with options for other toppings if desired.