Bring some color and a whole lot of flavors to your meal with this Southwestern Salad recipe. It’s loaded with fresh veggies, black beans, tortilla chips, air-fried chicken, and hearty seasonings. Together they create a festive dance of tastes and textures on your tongue that will have you hooked from the very first bite.
Is Southwestern Salad Healthy?
This salad has a lot of ingredients, but they are all healthy and measured to meet nutritional standards. In the end, there are 248 calories, 16.6 g protein, and only 2.3 g saturated fat per serving. The sodium level is also kept at a minimum, with 256.4 mg per serving, taking up only 11% of the daily intake limit.
Loaded with handfuls of veggies and chicken, this salad is a rich source of protein, antioxidants, and other nutrients. It also contains black beans, a legume rich in protein and fiber that may help lower the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Ingredients for Southwestern Salad
This salad gets its name from the extensive list of ingredients that are well-loved in the Southwest, most notably in Arizona and New Mexico. Even so, these are all staples you can easily find in your pantry and local stores.
Ripe avocados have a buttery texture and mild sweetness that stands out without overwhelming the dish.
When shopping for this fruit, opt for soft but not too mushy ones. Use your hands to gently squeeze and test out its firmness. If you cut it open, the flesh should be light green with a creamy texture.
- Black beans
These seemingly simple ingredients are quite irreplaceable in this dish. They add a soft and creamy texture that’s fun to chew on. You can cook fresh black beans, but we use the canned variety for convenience.
- Chicken breast
We decided to go with skinless, boneless chicken breast for this recipe. This lean cut has an unfair reputation of being dry and bland. However, it can become incredibly juicy and flavorful with a hearty mixture of seasonings and a few minutes in an air-fryer.
Frozen chicken is acceptable for this recipe, but we recommend fresh meat. Pick out pale pink chicken breasts that are tender to the touch with glossy but not slimy skin. They shouldn’t have a foul odor or a discoloration that turns the flesh yellow, green, or gray.
- Greek yogurt
To keep the recipe healthy and tasty, we use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. It possesses a similar creamy consistency and tangy taste but is much lower in calories and fat content.
As this recipe is Southwestern-inspired, we’ve included corn, cherry tomatoes, and red onion. However, since this salad is entirely customizable, we took creative liberty and added some arugula and iceberg lettuce for a more diverse taste.
- Tortilla chips
This recipe requires tortilla chips to complete the Southwestern flavor. A little bit of crunchiness on the side also makes it more exciting in texture. You can make your chips by air frying corn tortillas or even use Doritos for a quick and easy treat.
Southwestern food is known for its thrilling mixture of spicy, smoky, and sweet flavors. To achieve this, we used cumin, pepper, salt, garlic powder, chili powder, onion powder, paprika, and fresh cilantro.
Instead of using sugar, we used honey to sweeten this salad naturally. Its floral undertone helps to subtly brighten up the dressing without being too overpowering.
- Other seasonings
This dish is all about an exciting mixture of flavors, so we couldn’t help but add lime juice, olive oil, and apple cider vinegar. They bring a zesty and woody taste that complements the remaining ingredients marvelously.
- Ricotta cheese
As a finishing touch, we sprinkled a small amount of ricotta cheese onto this already delicious salad. Its mild creamy taste and thick texture tie the whole dish together nicely.
What to Serve Southwestern Salad With
This colorful salad is as versatile as you’d imagine. It makes a wonderful side dish for a variety of main dishes, but you can also use it to make:
- Vegetable wraps
Serve spoonful’s over a bed of fresh greens to make vegetable wraps that you can eat as a side dish or appetizer. The exciting blend of textures and flavors is a great way to start the meal.
- Burritos, Nachos, or Quesadillas
This salad’s hearty flavors and diverse textures make it a fitting filling for these popular Mexican dishes.
How to Store the Leftovers
This salad will last for 3 – 4 days in an airtight container when refrigerated. However, the avocado will likely oxidize and turn brown making it more bitter but still perfectly usable. However, if you prefer your avocado sweet and buttery, you can use brand new avocados for the leftovers.
How to Make Southwestern Salad
- 8 oz skinless boneless chicken breast
- 3 oz avocados pitted, peeled, sliced
- 3 oz corn
- 3 oz cherry tomatoes halved
- 2 oz iceberg lettuce
- 2 oz arugula
- 1 oz red onion sliced
- 2 oz canned black bean
- 3 tbsp plain Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cups cilantro chopped
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tbsp lime juice
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp honey
- 0.5 oz ricotta cheese
- 1 oz tortilla chips
- Season 8 oz skinless boneless chicken breast with 1/4 tsp cumin, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1/8 tsp salt, 1 tbsp olive oil, and 1/2 tsp paprika. Toss the chicken and rub on both sides to evenly distribute the seasonings.
- Preheat the air fryer to 375°F. Place the seasoned chicken down and air fry for 17 minutes.
- While the chicken is being cooked, make the dressing by mixing 1/2 tbsp lime juice, 1 tbsp honey, 1 tsp apple cider vinegar, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/8 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp onion powder, and 3 tbsp plain Greek yogurt until combined.
- When the time’s up, remove the air fryer basket and use a tong to carefully take the chicken out. Let it rest for a few minutes, then use a knife to cut it into 2-inch slices.
- Lay 2 oz iceberg lettuce, 2 oz arugula, 1 oz red onion, 3 oz cherry tomatoes, 3 oz corn, 3 oz avocados, 8 oz skinless boneless chicken breast, 2 oz canned black bean, and 1 oz tortilla chips onto a large plate. Garnish with 0.5 oz ricotta cheese and 1/4 cups cilantro.
- Use a small spoon to drizzle the dressing over the salad and enjoy.