I posted a review of Las Margaritas about a month ago with one of the meals I order there. We went again last night (we really do go once a week), so here is a camera phone pic of the other meal I get. It’s the “Veggie F no cheese”, a burrito with grilled onions, peppers and mushrooms, rice and refried beans.
I am needing to slim down my eating a tad, so earlier this week I wanted to make a great salad. Back when I was just out of college and working very hard at weight loss, I regularly ate a salad that included lettuce, cucumber, green pepper, black beans, canned corn, shredded cheese (I was ovo-lacto at the time), maybe a few crumbled tortilla chips and a dressing of Kraft fat-free ranch mixed with store bought salsa. It was a good tasting throw together salad and did the trick at the time, but it was very bottled and canned, if you know what I mean. I was wanting a more grown up, sophisticated version.
I started with the dressing. I wanted a Mexi-ranch feel similar to this recipe from a certain chain restaurant. (Although, a post from someone who claims to have formerly worked at said restaurant says it was literally just ranch and salsa mixed together. Seems more their style.) I had cashews leftover from making the quiche last weekend and figured that rather than using sour cream or mayo, they could provide me a creamy base.
I sauteed mushrooms and green peppers until soft, then added black beans, fresh corn off the cob, chili powder and lime juice. Chili and lime is one of my favorite flavor combinations to go with corn. In the bowl went chopped romaine, diced cucumber, shredded carrot, the warm sauteed mixture, avocado, cilantro, scallions, lime zest and finally the dressing.
I will admit that I also tried to make polenta croutons. They failed, probably for a number of reasons. I considered sprinkling on some pepitas for crunch but didn’t want to add more fat as the avocado and cashews in the dressing seemed like enough.
The dressing totally made the salad. Here is the recipe, but please let me warn you that it is SPICY. It’s not burn your mouth, run for water spicy…but it’s pretty hot. If you can’t stand the heat you can use less chipotle pepper or replace it with a dash of cayenne.
Spicy Mexi-Ranch Dressing
1/2 cup raw cashews
2 Tbs non-dairy milk
2 Tbs water
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp white vinegar
1/2 chipotle pepper
1/4 tsp dried parsley
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp dried dill
1/8 tsp dried cilantro
1/8 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp chili powder
1/8 tsp garlic powder
dash onion powder
dash freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbs finely diced onion
1 medium tomato, diced (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 large jalapeno, seeded and minced
1. In a food processor or blender, process cashews until they are a fine meal.
2. Add the next four ingredients (milk through vinegar) and process until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary.
3. Add the chipotle and seasonings (parsley through black pepper) and process until smooth.
4. Add the last three ingredients and pulse a few times to combine.
Makes about 1 cup.
I pulsed my dressing a few more times than desired because I was still tasting for seasonings, that’s why it kind of looks like pink baby upchuck. I was going for a more creamy dressing/chunky salsa ingredient texture. Also, if your not using the dressing on something with cilantro I’d recommend adding some in with the onion/tomato/jalapeno, because I love cilantro.
Speaking of pink baby upchuck, here is my breakfast from this morning.
In my quest for adding grains and protein to smoothies, I played on this idea from Chocolate Covered Vegan. Mine was more of a normal fruit smoothie (strawberries, pear, kiwi) with oat bran flakes blended in at the end, nothing fancy. I really like the texture of this. It’s like a chewy smoothie. I tried to drink it with a straw but it was too thick so I ate it with a spoon. And it kept me full until snack time, yay! Also, I think I’m going to drink all my smoothies from mason jars now. They’re very pretty, and easier to clean than a pint glass.