Note that this is a guest post written by my seriously awesome foodie friend Darryl. Enjoy!
My life is jammed-packed, but I strive to make homemade meals at least five nights a each week. Fortunately, I really like to cook and view it as my downtime transition from work to home. Cooking is my creative outlet that lets me escape to a fantasy-like world of wonderful tastes and smells. People know to leave me alone (because they’ve learned they won’t get fed). It also gives me huge brownie points with my family, since they get to reap the rewards of my efforts.
I happily spend 30 minutes to an hour in the kitchen most nights. However, there are some evenings I just don’t have that kind of time. Living in a rural area, carry-out and fast-food are not really options, so I have to come up with something. Salad is easily one of my favorite things to make (and eat) for a quick weeknight meal. It’s quick, healthy, and lets me clean out the fridge. You can throw anything into a salad! Top it with a great, homemade dressing, serve with a simple piece of grilled meat, and a you have an awesome quickie dinner. Adding the meat component makes my husband and step-son much more amenable to this dinner option.
Today was one of those days. Fortunately, last night I marinated a piece of flank steak in a blend of jalapenos, cilantro, garlic, olive oil, and salt (YUM!). I knew the steak would be fantastic on the grill, but was at a loss for what to serve with it. After a quick assessment of the contents of my fridge, I decided a giant salad would be the way to go. Within 15 minutes, I chopped up the makings of a fiesta-style salad. I also threw some ingredients in the blender and whipped up a killer homemade salad dressing.
The “recipe” below is definitely more of a guide than something that needs to be followed to a T. Let loose, get creative, and go with what you have!
Fiesta Salad with Kicked-Up Ranch-Style DressingPrint Recipe
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 6 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons sour cream
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1/4 of a small red onion, (about 2 tablespoons)
- 2 large garlic cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika (if you like a hotter flavor, use all hot paprika...warning...it's hotter than you'd expect!)
- 1/2 teaspoon hot paprika (If you like a milder flavor, use all sweet paprika)
- 1 teaspoon celery seeds (don not omit...this is the key to the whole dressing)
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped (you could also use cilantro)
- 6-8 chives
- 8 cups of salad greens, torn or roughly cut (I used 1/2 head iceberg, bibb, and kale)
- 1 tomato, seeded and diced
- 3/4 small red onion, diced
- 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
- 3 green onions, cut into 1/2 inch pieces, both white and green parts
- 1/2 cucumber, seeded and diced
- 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
- 1/2 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed under cold running water in a colander
Dressing - Make this before chopping veggies for your salad!
Throw all of the ingredients into your blender and lend until combined (5 seconds should do the trick).
Set aside to allow flavors to meld together.
Chop your salad greens, and set aside in a large serving bowl.
Chop and put remaining veggies in a colander to combine and drain until you are ready to serve.
Spread veggie mixture evenly over greens and top with dressing, cheese, diced avocados, tortilla strips, or anything else you desire,
The recipe for dressing makes almost 2 cups. You'll likely have leftovers after this meal, but it will disappear quickly. It will keep well in a mason jar for 7-10 days. However, this recipe is easily halved if you don't want to make that much. If you have any corn tortillas lying around, cut 4 of them into 1/4 inch strips. Place them on a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet in an oven preheated to 450 for 5-8 minutes to make crispy tortilla strips to finish off your salad.
What’s your go-to quickie meal? Please share below. We can all use as many of these in our cooking toolbox as possible!