Summer is the season for salads! Produce is at its peak, and a salad is the best way to enjoy all those fresh flavors.
I love the light, healthy feel of this fresh Southwest Salad. It’s packed with creamy avocados, juicy peppers, tender corn, red onions, all on a bed of crisp baby spinach – fresh, flavorful, and fabulous!
For me, I prefer my salads have a little crunch. Usually I add nuts (pecans and almonds are my favs). For this salad, I decided to toast some leftover cornbread to make cornbread croutons. They add a soft crunch and a hearty flavor.
Although I don’t think the salad needs a dressing, if you like dressing, I’ve added a slightly spicy, slightly citrus-y option that complements the flavors in the salad well.
Also, there’s no need to keep this salad as a side dish. Add blackened chicken to make it the main attraction of any meal.
- 1 ½ cups cornmeal
- 1 cup flour
- 6 tablespoons sugar
- 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup butter, melted and cooled
- 1 egg
- 1 ¼ cup buttermilk*
- optional: 1 cup corn at room temperature (fresh, frozen, or canned – drain liquid)
- optional: 1 cup of shredded cheese (cheddar, monterey jack, colby jack, etc)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1 clove garlic minced or 1 teaspoon minced shallot
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- optional: minced jalapeño to taste
- 8 ounces by weight baby spinach
- 1 cup sweet corn, cooked and drained
- 2 bell peppers, chopped, seeds removed
- 1 large avocado, diced, seed removed
- ¼ cup diced red onion
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare loaf pan by greasing with butter or spraying with cooking spray.
- In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients: cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir until fully mixed.
- In a medium bowl whisk together wet ingredients: butter, egg, and buttermilk.
- Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients and stir gently until just combined. Batter will be lumpy. Fold in corn and cheese. Pour batter into loaf pan.
- Bake until top is golden brown and toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Gently remove cornbread from pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.
- Once cornbread is completely cool, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Cut cornbread into large crouton sized pieces (about 1 inch cubes) and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until golden brown and crispy, about 20 minutes, flipping once during baking. Cool completely.
- While croutons are cooling, prepare dressing by whisking together lime juice, garlic, cilantro, and honey until blended. Slowly drizzle in olive oil while whisking constantly until oil is fully incorporated. Add salt, pepper, and optional minced jalapeños to taste.
- Divide spinach equally between the number of salads you are making (recipe is for 4). Cover each salad with an equal amount of corn, bell peppers, avocado, red onion, and croutons (I used about a total of ⅓ of the croutons to cover all 4 salads). If using dressing, drizzle with desired amount and serve immediately.
As noted earlier in the recipe, this recipe makes 4 salads with croutons leftover. I used about ⅓ of the cornbread for four salads.