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Southwest Chop Salad

Hot for Food Southwest Chop Salad

Reprinted with permission from Hot for Food Vegan Comfort Classics, text and photography copyright 2018 by Lauren Toyota. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

This is a fast and fresh salad from Lauren Toyota's new cookbook, Vegan Comfort Classics.  Lauren says that she usually preps all the components ahead of time and stores everything separately so that she is ready for quick assembly throughout the week.  She notes that this salad also "gifts you with the makings of a pretty nice veggie taco too!"

Servings 4


Coconut Bacon Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup low-sodium tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon liquid smoke
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 3 cups large flaked unsweetened coconut

The Classic Ranch Ingredients:

  • 1 cup vegan mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

Salad Ingredients:

  • 8 cups finely chopped romaine lettuce (1 large head)
  • 1 cup finely chopped red onion (about 1 onion)
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen and thawed corn kernels
  • 2 cups cooked black beans, or 1 can (19 oz/539 g) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 large avocado, pitted, peeled, and diced
  • 1 cup Coconut Bacon


Make the Coconut Bacon:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

  2. Combine the soy sauce, maple syrup, liquid smoke, and smoked paprika together in a bowl or wide dish with a whisk or fork.

  3. Stir the coconut flakes into the marinade and coat well.  There shouldn't be any marinade pooling at the bottom of the bowl, as the flakes will soak it up.  If there is, keep stirring until it disappears!

  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Spread out the coconut flakes on the lined baking sheet in an even layer.

  5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, tossing every 5 minutes to prevent burning.  When the coconut is a uniform, deep brown color, remove the baking sheet from the oven and transfer the bacon to a plate or another baking sheet so it doesn't continue to cook.  Allow it to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.  The bacon will last 2 months if stored in a cool, dry place, but it never lasts that long in my house.

Make The Classic Ranch dressing:

  1. Stir all the ingredients together in a bowl until well combined.  Add water if you want a thinner dressing.  Store in the fridge for up to 10 days.

Assemble the Southwest Chop Salad:

  1. Assemble each salad with 2 cups of the chopped romaine, 1/4 cup of the diced onion, and 1/2 cup each of the corn, beans, and tomatoes, plus one-fourth of the avocado.

  2. Top with the bacon and ranch dressing.  Feel free to go wild on those two things too!

Recipe Notes

  • HOT TIP: Wanna make this salad warm? Saute the black beans, corn, and red onion together with the spices of your choice, and leave the rest of the ingredients raw and fresh.  Ummm, also taco worthy!