A fresh and flavorful Southwestern Chopped Salad recipe tossed in the most delicious creamy avocado cilantro-lime dressing! This southwest salad is so crisp and refreshing, plus simple to prepare. (Vegan, gluten-free, oil-free option.)
This Southwestern Chopped Salad with homemade Creamy Cilantro-Lime Dressing is our all-time favorite salad.
It's filled with colorful fresh vegetables and plant-based nutrition. So fresh and delicious!
Plus it's great for picnics, potlucks, meal prep, and parties because it seems to be a real crowd-pleaser.
We also enjoy it for lunch, a side dish, or light dinner.
Ingredients for Southwestern Salad
For the salad portion, you will toss together in a large bowl:
- Romaine lettuce
- Black beans: This adds great texture, heartiness, and plant-based fiber and protein. I simply rinse and drain a 15-ounce can, but you can also cook your own from scratch. (You will need about 1.5 cups cooked beans.)
- Orange bell pepper: Or you can use yellow or red bell pepper if desired.
- Cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes: I like these best because they are so flavorful, but you can also use roma tomato, plum tomato, or other garden tomato. Just be sure they are ripe and flavorful.
- Cooked sweet corn: Either fresh corn on the cob, canned, thawed frozen corn, fire-roasted, etc.
- Green onion: Or you can use finely diced red onion for a stronger onion flavor.
Ingredients for Southwest Salad Dressing
For the creamy cilantro lime dressing you will blend in a blender:
- Fresh cilantro: Not a fan of cilantro? Readers have reported success with substituting fresh parsley instead. (And some who normally do not care for cilantro said they actually enjoy it in this dressing!)
- Avocado: Or you can substitute plain, unsweetened vegan yogurt or vegan sour cream.
- Lime juice: We will use two tablespoons fresh lime juice, which is about one lime.
- Fresh garlic cloves
- Olive oil: For an oil-free version, simply substitute water to help thin the dressing.
- White wine vinegar: Or you can use apple cider vinegar instead.
- Salt: This helps to maximize and bring out all the flavors. I use fine-grain salt for this recipe.
- Ground cumin and agave: These are both optional but recommended. Cumin adds great flavor, and the agave (or other sweetener of choice) helps to balance the flavors.
Tip: You can also add fresh jalapeno for extra flavor and spice!
Dressing amount: For us, one recipe of the cilantro dressing is a great match for the amount of salad below, but adjust as you see fit.
Side or main: This salad works great either as a main dish or side dish.
Toppings: Serve with additional diced avocado, vegan cheddar cheese shreds, or even tortilla chips (or tortilla strips) for a little crunch and texture.
Making ahead of time: Store the prepared dressing and prepared salad separately in airtight containers in the refrigerator. Then toss them together in a bowl before serving. This helps keep the veggies fresh and crisp.
Looking for more? Check out this amazing Vegan Taco Salad as well!
Southwestern Chopped Salad with Cilantro-Lime Dressing
- 1 large head romaine
- 15 oz. can black beans
- 1 orange bell pepper
- 10 oz. cherry/grape tomatoes (about 1 pint)
- 2 cups sweet corn, cooked
- 5 green onions
For the creamy cilantro-lime dressing:
- 1 cup loosely packed cilantro (stems removed and roughly chopped)
- 1/2 avocado (or 1/2 cup plain vegan yogurt)
- 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice (about 1 lime, more to taste)
- 1-2 garlic cloves
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil (for oil-free, sub a little water to thin)
- 1 1/2 tsp. white wine vinegar
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- Recommended: agave & cumin to taste
- Make the dressing: Blend all dressing ingredients in a food processor/blender until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. (I like the addition of a little cumin, and also agave to sweeten.)
- Chop romaine, bell pepper, tomatoes, and green onions. Rinse and drain black beans.
- Place all salad ingredients in a large bowl.
- Toss with desired amount of dressing.*
Nutrition Per Serving (Estimate)
If you are enjoying this Southwest Salad recipe with Cilantro Dressing, also check out:
- Corn and Black Bean Fajitas
- Lentil Salad with Capers and Balsamic Dijon Dressing
- Cucumber Salad
- Restaurant-Style Blender Salsa