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Southwestern Chopped Salad is a party on a platter! Filling, fresh, and colorful, this gluten-free entree salad recipe will liven up your dinner table.

Southwestern Chopped Salad is a party on a platter! Filling, fresh, and colorful, this gluten-free entree salad recipe will liven up your dinner table. | iowagirleats.com

Hey, hey everyone, I hope you’re having a wonderful, shortened week! I’m so sorry I’ve been out of the loop. I got smacked with a horrible head cold last weekend (*literally* hours after smugly telling Ben, “you know, I just never really get sick!” Oh hey, karma!) and have been completely out of commission for the past five days. Turns out it’s hard to do much of anything, including taste food, when it feels like an elephant is standing on your face! ?

Though I ran through a Costco-sized supply of Kleenex we had a great 4th of July weekend and kicked things off with our traditional fireworks viewing + Yankee Doodle Pops concert with my parents at the capital on Friday night!

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A beautiful day turned into the perfect evening to spread out a blanket, feast on snacks, and catch a fireworks display with a symphony orchestra soundtrack.

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This little guy had so much fun. I can’t believe he’ll have a 9 month old brother to watch the show with next year!!

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The next morning is when I felt the bug coming on so after sleeping in I spent time soaking up some vitamin D on the back porch. My birthday was on Tuesday and Ben always sets up a little sanctuary for me to relax in. ?? This year it came with reading material in the form of a stack of magazines, and homemade sun tea brewing in a new drink dispenser (I think he got it at Williams & Sonoma.) Arnold Palmers were all the rage this weekend!

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I flipped through the pages of the latest issue of Travel + Leisure (?) then opened an early birthday present.

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Seafood shears and pickers for the early birthday shrimp and crab boil Ben put on later that night!

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Low-country boils are definitely not common here in the Midwest, but for some reason the idea lit a fire under Ben’s butt and I’m so glad it did because this was THE BEST THING EVER!!!!!

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He used a big turkey fryer to cook potatoes, corn, andouille sausage (Johnsonville is gluten-free,) fresh green beans (not traditional but a must-try,) crab legs and shrimp (locals: we got these at Waterfront,) plus an onion, lemon, couple heads of garlic, and homemade Old Bay seasoning, then poured the pot onto a card table covered in paper bags when everything was done. We set out a few bowls of clarified butter mixed with a little of the cooking liquid, plus more of the seasoning, then feasted.

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It was soooooo fun, and not difficult at ALL! This meal will definitely become an annual tradition. I just can’t believe how easy it was, and everyone loved finding their favorite flavor combinations. Although I could barely taste anything at this point in the weekend, the sweet sweet crab, spicy seasoning, and savory sausage definitely shone through. Totally incredible – go Ben! (Lincoln had a hot dog warmed in the crab boil liquid plus 3 green beans, in case you were thinking we have a low-country boil-loving toddler. HAHAHA! No.)

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The rest of the weekend was filled with smooches and sticky s’mores. (#laundryday)

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4th of July parades and BBQs.

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(FEELIN’ his freedom!)

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And more s’mores, of course. YOLO, and all that!

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What was the highlight of your holiday weekend?

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To tell you the truth, I’m still feeling under the weather but, as they say, the show must go on (I think I’m still in denial that the 4th of July is already over, too. Where oh where is this summer going, and why oh why am I already seeing Halloween decorations for sale at the store? Say it ain’t so!)

At any rate, I planned on whipping up this delectable, summery salad for you before the holiday but once the head cold hit and my taste buds went into hiding, I didn’t get a chance until just a couple days ago. Despite still being stuffed up I took one bite and immediately texted Ben, “I’m back, baby!” That is to say, the flavor in this salad is off the charts!

Southwestern Chopped Salad is a party on a platter! Filling, fresh, and colorful, this gluten-free entree salad recipe will liven up your dinner table. | iowagirleats.com

So, confession time – my friends and I were total regulars at allthechains in high school. TGI Fridays, Carlos o’Kelly’s, CHILI’S – nothing was safe! I re-created Chili’s spicy, slightly-thick bowls of Chicken Tortilla Soup way back in 2012 (!) and am back with another copycat recipe that I used to order on the regular: Southwestern Chopped Salad (though they call theirs Sante Fe Chicken Salad.) Regardless of what you’re calling it, this salad is still stuffed with all the same tasty ingredients.

A base of thinly shredded romaine lettuce is tossed with local sweet corn, creamy black beans and avocado, plus fresh pico de gallo and crushed blue corn tortilla chips which not only add a fabulous color to this beautiful dish, but a salty, satisfying crunch. While Chili’s drizzles their salad with ranch dressing plus a spicy santa fe sauce, to keep things simple and low-fuss I dressed my salad in Salsa Ranch Dressing aka salsa mixed with, you guessed it, ranch dressing.

It’s the simple life over here, folks, won’t you join me?!

I’m telling you, this dish is a treat to eat. Savory, sweet, fresh, crunchy, creamy – totally interesting. Since this salad has black beans for protein and is enormous, I kept it meatless, but if you want to divy up the recipe amongst four people instead of two or three, add grilled chicken, shrimp, or steak on top and you’re set!

Southwestern Chopped Salad is a party on a platter! Filling, fresh, and colorful, this gluten-free entree salad recipe will liven up your dinner table. | iowagirleats.com

Start by mixing up a batch of fresh Pico de Gallo. Before making my own PdG I was totally indifferent about the oft overlooked condiment served in tiny plastic cups next to burritos and nachos which, in my experience, almost always went untouched. Homemade PdG though? INSANE. Ridiculously good in this salad and/or dunked into with tortilla chips. It’s just a mix of chopped tomatoes, white onion, jalapeno, cilantro, lime juice, and salt. Simple ingredients, tons of flavor.

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Add your desired amount of pico de gallo (aka what’s left after attacking it with chips) to a big bowl with 9oz shredded or chopped romaine lettuce, the kernels from 2 ears sweet corn, and 1/2 cup black beans then toss to combine.

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Last step is to add 1 chopped avocado and a couple handfuls of crushed blue corn tortilla chips (dare you not to feel like Buddy the Elf mixing up his candy spaghetti while crushing the chips over your salad! ?) then drizzle with Salsa Ranch Dressing and toss again to combine. Scoop onto plates then dig in! I hope you enjoy this fresh and colorful summer feast!

Southwestern Chopped Salad is a party on a platter! Filling, fresh, and colorful, this gluten-free entree salad recipe will liven up your dinner table. | iowagirleats.com

Southwestern Chopped Salad

Description

Southwestern Chopped Salad is a party on a platter! Filling, fresh, and colorful, this gluten-free entree salad recipe will liven up your dinner table.

Ingredients

serves 2-3

  • 9oz shredded or chopped romaine lettuce
  • 2 ears sweet corn, kernels sliced from cobs
  • 1/2 cup black beans
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • Handful blue corn tortilla chips, crushed
  • Ranch dressing
  • Salsa
  • For the Pico de Gallo:
    • 2 vine-ripened tomatoes, seeded and chopped
    • 1/4 small white onion, minced
    • 1/2 jalapeño (or more or less,) seeded and minced
    • 1/4 cup packed cilantro, chopped
    • juice of 1/2 lime
    • salt

Directions

  1. For the Pico de Gallo: combine ingredients in a small bowl then set aside. Can be done a day ahead of time.
  2. Stir together desired amounts of Ranch dressing and salsa (I used roughly 50/50 ratios) in a small bowl to create Salsa-Ranch dressing, then set aside.
  3. Add romaine, sweet corn, black beans, and desired amount of pico de gallo to a large bowl then toss to combine. Add avocado, crushed tortilla chips, and Salsa-Ranch dressing then toss again to combine. Serve immediately.

Notes

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.

Southwestern Chopped Salad is a party on a platter! Filling, fresh, and colorful, this gluten-free entree salad recipe will liven up your dinner table. | iowagirleats.com