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.

las margs

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.



  1. julieannef said

    Your salad looks soo good! I enjoy a southwestern-y salad from time to time. I will definetely have to try that dressing recipe.

    You are so funny… “Speaking of pink baby upchuck…” haha

  2. Celine said

    I’m with you on needing to slim down the eatz. oy.

  3. VeggieGirl said

    Mmm, such colorful dishes and beverage!

  4. Mmm, spicy! It can only be good if it’s spicy 😉
    The salad looks absolutely great, I should eat more salads and less burritos! hehe.

  5. Jennifer said

    That salad looks perfect. And I’m with Alice, the spicier the better. Who like non-spicy Mexican food anyway? Maybe I’m just a freak. That dressing sounds fantastic, and the picture is gorgeous.

  6. That dressings sounds perfect- creamy and spicy! I love your idea of using raw cashews instead of the typical silken tofu/vegan mayo base.

  7. indeed, smoothies are awesome! i have been making them all week, and they make me happy!

  8. Lizzy said

    Ohh, your dressing sounds lovely. I’ll have to try it out! I need to buy cashews later today anyway.
    I looove your smoothie and totally agree with you – that jar is too pretty!

  9. your dressing sounds delicious! I love that flavor combination.

  10. That dressing sounds really tasty. Thanks for the recipe!

  11. Lauren said

    Yum, mexican salads are one of my favorite things to eat.. but it’s harder to eat them while out since i ask for no cheese, no sour cream blah blah so basically its lettuce with beans and salsa haha.
    and your mexi ranch dressing i’m sure is much better than applebee’s. i work there haha but i can’t say ive seen them mix salsa with does look like theres some spices and such in it so maybe its legit? who knows.. 🙂

  12. Your salad looks perfect for a summer meal. I think a lot of us need more salad and less burritos these days, but a Mexi-Ranch dressing would make that a lot easier!

  13. atxvegn said

    I can’t wait to try the salad dressing! I love cilantro. I toss it in with my salad greens.

  14. Marni said

    What a beautiful salad! You’ve just inspired me to try to recreate (and veganize) a salad dressing I used to get a nearby restaurant that I used to absolutely love! I would even ask to take extra home in take-out containers. :::grin:::

    Fantastic idea. I love the creativity.

  15. Samantha said

    YUM! I just found my blender (it was in a box marked “bathroom/other stuff.” Never let men pack the house up when you move!) so I will be making lots of smoothies like yours!

  16. Hehe, it’s not that I just discovered baking soda, but I couldn’t find it anywhere! unbelievable, isn’t it? only one supermarket out of 6 carries it! I’ve been looking for it for months already!
    And the burritos, well, I spent an afternoon checking up in wikipedia the difference between burrito, enchilada, quesadilla and so on. What can I say, I’m not a Mexican queen like you! 🙂 Just look at this post!

  17. That salad looks AWESOME! And so does the plate of Mexican restaurant food. I love Mexican restaurants. I just always eat too much. It’s those damn free chips…and the margaritas that get me.

  18. LK said

    I love fruit smoothies – adding oat bran sounds like a great addition. More nutritious that way too! I like mine thick too – I always eat it with a spoon.

  19. Mihl said

    Since I discovered how great cashews are as a base for sauces and dressings I throw them into everything!
    Your salad looks so good and the dressing sounds great.

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