Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tropical Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

It's started warming up here - FINALLY - and it's put me in the mood for some spring/summer food - particularly salads.

I wanted something that hit my tropical, citrus, crunch but didn't kill my sweet tooth, which meant I needed some good "neutral notes" and a bit of spice.

As most the fruit I craved aren't in season - I used the best product I could find. In the case of the mango and pineapple, I found a flash frozen blend in the freezer aisle, used canned mandarine oranges - but everything else was fresh.

My kids all raved about it! My son isn't big on salad dressings and usually dress all of his salads with a drizzle of honey - hey - just as long as he's eating fruits, veg, protein and fiber - right? The picture is of my picky sons plate - light on the chicken and sans the honey - but you get the idea.

Tropical Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette
1 head romaine lettuce, chopped and rinsed*
1 c mango, diced
1 c pineapple, diced
1 c mandarine oranges
1 c sweet corn
1 c black beans, rinsed
1 c tomato, diced
1 avocado, diced
1/4 c green onion, diced
1 jalapeƱo, diced (seeds or no seeds based on preference)
Grilled BBQ chicken (leftover from last night)
Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette linked HERE - adapted from HERE

A salad is a salad - so there really aren't instructions if you've ever made or actually eaten one before. But I have a few tips. I wanted to get the most out of every ingredient and that took some foresight.

As a friend of mine said a few years ago after I converted her into making her own salad dressing said "I think the difference between a good salad and a mind blowing salad is home made dressing." I couldn't agree more. Home made dressing is easy and probably less expensive than the bottled stuff and most importantly has less preservatives and chemicals. As 2 of my kids have food allergies, it's also a huge benefit for me to know exactly what goes into everything - and when it's made from scratch...

That said, if you make your own salad dressing, make sure you give your dressing time for all the ingredients to combine their flavors, to thicken and - to get nice and cold.

Salad dressing in the bottle is convenient and sometimes necessary, if you chose to use bottled, make sure it's had enough time in the refrigerator to give you what you and your salad want - cold.

The mango and pineapple were frozen, so I thawed them per pkg directions on the counter - never, ever, ever thaw fruit in the microwave - ever. Then I made sure to drain the beans and the oranges and put them in the fridge so they would be nice and cold by dinner time. I diced the green onion and the jalapeno beforehand as they don't necessarily need to be chilled and as the tomato and avocado had been refrigerated since I brought them home - I waited until service to dice them.

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