This delicious vegan Southwest Salad recipe is full of fresh ingredients. It is inspired by Café Rio's Sweet Pork salad, and the flavors of the Mexican and Southwestern cuisine. A healthy meal that is super quick and easy to throw together. It keeps good in the fridge for up to four days! Drizzle with a vegan creamy cilantro lime dressing and tortilla chip crumbles for some crunch.
💡 The recipe in a nutshell
- Vegan (eggless and dairy-free)
- Whole-Foods Plant-Based
- Easy and quick to make
- Healthy, wholesome, and delicious
🥗 What is Southwest salad made of?
This Southwest Salad is inspired by the Café Rio Sweet Pork salad and flavors of the Mexican and Southwestern cuisine. It uses: cooked rice, shredded and fried tofu instead of meat, black beans, corn, guacamole, pico de gallo, chopped salad green, tortilla chips (I prefer blue corn tortillas, but regular work too) and a vegan creamy cilantro lime dressing. Optional you can serve it all on a warm tortilla and with vegan cheese shreds.
🍋 How to make the vegan cilantro lime dressing
For this vegan Southwestern Salad, I included a recipe for creamy cilantro lime dressing. To make the creamy cilantro dressing you need vegan ranch or sour cream and seasonings. Such as fresh cilantro, cumin, smoked paprika, agave syrup, or some organic cane sugar, garlic, and limes. Optional add-ins include vegan salsa verde, and jalapeño. Simply add all ingredients required to a high-speed blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
👩🍳 How-to make Southwestern salad
Making this salad is fool-proof and does not require a lot of experience in the kitchen! First you want to wash and cook the rice following package instructions (either on the stove or in a rice cooker). You could even do that a couple of days ahead if wished.
Chop salad greens if you are not using pre-cut variety and drain the cans of black beans and corn. If you are making the guacamole and pico de gallo from scratch prepare those as well. I like to use a vegetable chopper to quicken the process of making pico and guac. However, it is totally fine if you have to take a shortcut by using store-bought ones!
Prepare your shredded tofu, or if you are using a store-bought variety, simply follow the package instructions. Then all you need to do is assemble it all on a plate, serve and enjoy!
🌱 Plant-Based Meal on a Budget
This salad is not only a perfectly filling meal but ALSO budget-friendly. I broke down the costs for you and each serving costs around $2.50 dollars. The price may vary a bit depending on the grocery prices of your location, and what kind of vegan brands (for ranch, dips or meat crumble) you may be buying. For more tips on this topic read our vegan on a budget guide.
This salad is truly a favorite in our home and we eat it at least once a week!
📋 Variations and shortcuts
As already mentioned above, if you don’t want to make a dressing use plain vegan ranch and/or a vegan Cilantro dip. Otherwise, this dish tastes great with only guacamole and pico too!
Instead of serving this with plain rice, you could prepare cilantro lime rice, or season it by cooking it in vegetable broth. The same goes for the beans, feel free to season them as wished or cook Mexican black beans
Feel free to add more vegetables that you think fit the other flavors of the salad, or leave out ingredients you may not like. This recipe leaves a lot of room for individualization and creativity!
You can store all ingredients in the fridge separate from one another: Store cooked rice on its own in an air-tight container for 3 to 4 days in the fridge. Store pico de gallo, corn, and beans all on their own in air-tight containers for 3 to 4 days in the fridge. Store guacamole on its own in an air-tight container for up to 3 days.
If you have leftovers from the assembled salad store them in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to two days.
To store leftover lettuce wrap the remaining head in a paper towel, place it in a plastic bag, and store it in the fridge. If you have already cut lettuce leftover line a sturdy glass container with a few paper towels, then scatter your greens on top. Or alternatively use produce container. It needs air circulation and little bit of moisture to stay fresh the longest, so open it every once in a while if using an air-tight container. If stored right it stays fresh for up to 6 days in the fridge.
Vegan Southwest Salad (vegan)
- pot to cook rice, or rice cooker; kitchen knife and cutting board; bowls
- to prepare salad dressing you need a high-speed blender or food processor
Ingredients for the salad
- 1 cup uncooked long-grain rice (eg: basmati) (195g)
- 12 oz of shredded and fried tofu (400g)
- 1 can of black beans (15oz / 425g)
- 1 can of corn (15oz / 425g)
- ½ head of iceberg salad head (or chopped salad greens)
- 10 to 14 oz pico de gallo (300-400g)
- 8 to 10 oz guacamole (200-300g)
- 4.2 oz tortilla chips (120g)
To make creamy cilantro lime dressing
- ½ cup of vegan ranch or sour cream (7.7 oz / 220g)
- ⅓ bunch of fresh cilantro
- 1 teaspoon cumin and smoked paprika each
- 1 teaspoon agave syrup, or some organic cane sugar
- 1 clove of garlic
- juice of 2 limes
- salt and pepper to taste, if needed
Optional dressing add-ins for more flavor
- 2 tablespoon vegan salsa verde
- ½ jalapeño, deseeded (toss seeds unless you want spice, then add a few to taste)
- First, wash and cook the rice following package instructions (either on the stove or in a rice cooker). You could even do that a couple of days ahead if wished.
- Chop salad greens, if you are not using pre-cut variety. Drain the cans of black beans and corn. If you are making the guacamole and pico de gallo from scratch prepare those as well. I like to use a vegetable chopper to quicken the process of making pico and guac. However, it is totally fine if you have to take a shortcut by using store-bought ones!
- Prepare your shredded tofu, or if you are using a store-bought variety, simply follow the package instructions.
Prepare salad dressing
- Add all dressing ingredients required to a high-speed blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
- Once everything is prepared all you need to do is assemble it all on plates. Start with the rice, followed by the beans and tofu, salad greens, corn, some dressing, more salad greens, pico de gallo and guacamole, and more dressing if wished. Top with your favorite tortilla chips, serve and enjoy! Optional you can lay it all out on a warm tortilla, as Café Rio does.
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