Southwest Pepper Jack Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing

Easter weekend is one of my favorites. I love getting to spend time with family and partake in the traditional Cirks’ family Easter egg hunt. Though this year, I did much more standing around than hunting, I still had an amazing time catching up with family. Speaking of brunch (oh wait). Well now, speaking of brunch, my extended family went to brunch at Granite City in DSM for our Easter meal and there were unlimited mimosa. Living in Macomb, I have become deprived of the beauty of brunch and unlimited drinks. So while stuffing my face with every breakfast food possible, I also drank as many mimosas as I could; you know, for good measure. However, after a weekend filled with cake, candy and all things sweet, I needed a break.

Instead of working on a paper I have due this week about the role/function of the mental health professional, I spend last night meal planning and watching Friends. I am 9 seasons deep in Friends and am 100% addicted. No shame. Anyway, I decided on this salad to break up the monotony of all the sweets, quesadillas, and mac & cheese that I eat on a regular basis. My trip to Hy-Vee began in the produce section. I picked up two heads of romaine lettuce, those little tomatoes (grape tomatoes?), cilantro, a red bell pepper, and an avocado. I also grabbed some canned corn (I know, that’s cheating but whatever I’m poor), sunflower seeds, tortilla strips, and sour cream. I luckily had all the other ingredients at home already. I am constantly surprised by how many spices that I own. Blows my mind every time.

I made the dressing first. I put all the ingredients for the dressing (which is a lot and I was afraid it wouldn’t fit) in my food processor. I know the recipe calls for a blender, but I knew my blender would not do the job right; however, my food processor is a champ so I used that instead. I blended all of the ingredients until it was smooth (or as smooth as I could get it). I added the hot sauce and paprika and a little more milk than the recipe called for because I like my dressings really creamy and I also enjoy spicy things. The dressing didn’t get as liquid-y as I would have liked, but that’s okay. I tossed that in the fridge while I got the salad part ready. I chopped one head of romaine and tossed it with the cut up red pepper, corn, tiny tomatoes, and sunflower seeds. I then realized I was missing something. The beans. DAMN YOU, STUPID BEANS. Because I hate beans, I added grilled chicken instead (the kind that comes pre-cooked and pre sliced – don’t judge). I threw that into the mix along with the pepper jack cheese that I cut up by hand because I never thought I would need a cheese grater. Hy-Vee (here) doesn’t carry shredded pepper jack cheese which is just unfair and not cool. I tossed all of those ingredients with the romaine to create an even distribution of deliciousness. Finally, I added the dressing and the tortilla strips. Viola! A spicy, chicken-y, avocado-y salad! I normally don’t like salad all that much. I mean, its good and all, but I would prefer pizza any day. I must admit this salad and the dressing were fantastic! It tasted fresh, spicy and sweet all at the same time which was a wonderful experience for my taste buds. I made so much that I will have leftovers for lunch every day this week! Which is great because I normally have junky/crappy food for lunch because I am always in rush in the mornings. Definitely give this one a try if you are looking for a great salad that serves as the main dish!



Salad: Romaine lettuce, corn, red bell pepper, tiny tomatoes, black beans (or chicken), sunflower seeds

Dressing: Avocado, garlic, cilantro, sour cream, smooth salsa (medium), milk, olive oil, sugar, lime juice, salt, cumin, pepper, paprika, and hot sauce

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