Thursday, June 17, 2021

Fiesta Chop Salad

Farmer's Market season + hot weather: It's the formula for a main dish salad for a tasty meal.

I love main dish salads in the summer. Randy likes them, too, but, in his estimation, some sort of protein needs to be included. And he'd prefer it not be chicken. I've been rationing the few steaks we have left in the freezer, but I decided to pull a package out when I saw the Fiesta Chop Salad recipe in an email from a Hutchinson kitchen store, Apron Strings. 

Covid-19 threw off our butchering schedule, so my beef freezer stash is alarmingly low. But grilled chicken or grilled shrimp would be tasty as an accompaniment to this salad, flavor-packed with spices and cilantro.

The original recipe called for iceberg lettuce. I prefer romaine hearts. When available, I buy the package with three hearts packaged together and chop them myself as I need them. They stay fresher and I can control the size of the bite. 

However, you could use salad greens from your garden or the farmer's market. With this salad, there's a "fiesta" of Mexican-inspired flavors coating the greens and the other veggies. The recipe called for corn grilled and cut from the cob, cherry tomatoes and finely-diced red onion. Randy and I prefer leaving the onion out ... so I did. That's the beauty of recipes like this - mix and match to suit your taste!

I also didn't have corn on the cob, so I charred frozen corn in a hot skillet on my stove top. It worked well.

While I used drained and rinsed black beans, you could use slightly-drained chili beans (like the email recipe suggested) or kidney beans. Sharp Cheddar cheese added flavor, along with the salty crunch of the corn chips tossed in at the very end.

The dressing started with a yogurt base, to which I added vinegar and oil, along with several spices. 

The recipe serves 6 to 8. Because I was making it for just us two, I used the ingredients needed to prepare two servings and kept the rest dressing free. That way, I could make fresh salad for another meal - much better than rehashing soggy salad greens and soggy corn chips!  

We also had more dressing than we needed for our two main dish salads. Just store the extra in the fridge and use the next time you make a salad.

A light meal will likely be on the menu at noon today. Randy test-cut wheat yesterday afternoon, and it was still a little too wet. The elevator at Zenith says it needs to be 13.4% before they'll take loads of wheat. 

Randy is like a little boy waiting for his birthday. He's hopeful that today is the day. And, if you're keeping track of our friendly family wager on our start date, Brent is poised to be the winner ... IF we go today. Susan has June 18, and I'm on the calendar for June 19. (I don't think I'm going to win the contest, but I'll win if we can actually start. And remember: Like a good mom, I had last pick of the dates.)

Randy actually went out twice yesterday to test cut - once right after lunch and once at 5 PM to see if it had dried enough. I accused him of wanting to stack the deck, since he had the June 16 date. We might have had to call disqualification.

Whether you're trying this salad as a harvest meal or just the way to beat the heat on a day when temperature records may be broken, I hope you enjoy! And good luck to our fellow farmers! h

Fiesta Chop Salad
Adapted from Apron Strings kitchen store
Serves 6-8
1 head chopped iceberg lettuce or 1 pkg. of 3 hearts of romaine, chopped
10 oz. grape tomatoes, halved
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
4 ears corn, grilled and kernels cut off the cob
Olive oil for brushing corn cobs
3 cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese
2 cups corn chips
1/4 red onion, finely diced (opt.)
To make it a main dish:
3-4 ounces per person to be served of your choice of grilled chicken, grilled steak, grilled shrimp, etc.
Creamy Cilantro Dressing
(Makes about 1 cup dressing)
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 tbsp. fresh lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil or vegetable oil
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. dried cumin
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 tbsp. fresh cilantro, minced
Dressing: Combine all the ingredients in a blender and mix well. Refrigerate until serving. 
For Salad: Grill corn over direct heat until char marks appear. Once it's cooled slightly, carefully cut the kernels from the cob. (Because I didn't have corn on the cob, I charred frozen corn in a hot skillet on my stove top.) Wash and chop lettuce (I used romaine.) Half the grape tomatoes. Finely dice onion (if you want to use it. We prefer leaving out the raw onions.)

Assemble: Toss all the salad ingredients (except corn chips) together in a large bowl and combine with dressing, as desired. Top with corn chips. Serve immediately. 

To make it a main dish salad, top with seasoned chicken, beef or shrimp. 

Note: Since we don't have 6-8 people to serve at our typical noon meal, I just used enough ingredients for the two of us and refrigerated the remaining ingredients separately for another meal. Once dressed, the salad isn't as good for leftovers.


  1. Fingers crossed that the harvest goes well.

    1. We got a good start yesterday (June 17).