This Cowgirl Salad will forever change your salad game – meal salads are the best! I know that’s a big statement, but I’m prime time in LOVE with this one and I know you will be too!
Copycat Earl’s Sante-Fe Salad
Confession: I’ve always loved the Santa-Fe Salad from Earl’s. There’s something so incredibly satisfying about it. The combination of sweet and salty and spicy has me weak in the knees. I’ve wanted to re-create it for years… why it took me so long to make this copycat version is beyond me!
Growing up I used to think that salads were just a bunch of iceberg lettuce with a couple slices of cucumber and tomato and store-bought salad dressing. It was just the era I grew up in. Was I wrong, or what!
I remember the first time I went to France and ordered a green salad. I was a bit confused… it was ONLY lettuce!? Huh? But wait. The salad dressing. Now that was a different story. Where had this been all of my life? That was it, I HAD to try making my own salad dressing. And of course, once you start doing that you simply can’t go back.
But back to this salad, Charles and I love salads that double as a meal, especially in the summer time. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut with dinner or with salads in general, so consider this a new contender for your regular line-up!
Meal Prep Salads
Prep the ingredients ahead of time and store them in resealable containers to make it easy to put together on a busy weeknight or for easy entertaining. It can almost all be assembled in advance (leave off the dressing and avocado until just before serving). Planning things out in advance takes so much stress out of getting healthy meals on the table (check out our Meal Plan if you like the idea of everything planned out for you in advance, grocery lists, recipes, prep and all).
Vegan Santa-Fe Salad
This Santa-Fe inspired salad is loaded with veggies and packed with protein – you can make it completely vegan by substituting tofu for the chicken and vegan feta for the feta cheese (or simply leaving out the cheese).
You can make this Santa-Fe Salad gluten-free easily by simply using gluten -free versions of all of the ingredients (ie: soy sauce). Depending on how gluten-sensitive you are, be sure that all of your spices, chips etc. are indeed gluten free (not all are).
Easy Salad Recipes
If you’re looking for other similar salad recipes try out this Grilled Peach Salad with Spicy Prawns at the height of peach season (that’s a bit unfair of me given that I’m writing this in March), my Falafel Salad with Garlic Tahini Dressing or this Ultimate Power Salad for a nutrient-packed satisfying meal that will leave your body saying ‘thank you’.
This salad is 100% satisfying and so gorgeous, especially when served in a shallow platter to really show off the ingredients. As always, I would love to hear what you think in the comments below if you make it!
This Santa-Fe style salad is brimming with flavour, fibre and colour and is such a showy dish to impress guests! You can double the chicken or tofu if you’re making it for a bigger (or hungrier) crowd.
- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil
- 1/4 cup roasted peanuts
- 3 tablespoons natural smooth peanut butter
- 1 teaspoon lime zest
- 3 tablespoons lime juice (from 1-2 limes)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons honey or maple syrup
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
Cajun Chicken or Tofu
- 1 350 g. package extra firm tofu OR
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- avocado oil or olive oil
- 1 tablespoon cajun spice mix
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 heads (10 cups) torn romaine lettuce (bite size pieces)
- 1 540 ml can black beans (drained and rinsed)
- 1 cup corn (cooked and cooled)
- 2 red, yellow or orange bell peppers, diced
- 1/2 cup chopped pitted Medjool dates
- 1/3 cup crumbled feta or vegan feta (optional)
- 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
- 2 avocados, sliced or diced
- tortilla chips for serving (optional)
- 1 lime, cut in wedges for serving
MAKE THE SALAD DRESSING
Combine all of the salad dressing ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Set aside.
PREPARE THE CHICKEN OR TOFU
To prepare the chicken, preheat a grill or frying pan on medium heat. Drizzle 1 teaspoon of olive oil or avocado oil over each chicken breast, rub it in, sprinkle each with the cajun spice mix to coat and season with salt. Grill on a barbecue or in a pan on the stove on both sides until the internal temperature reaches 165F. Transfer to a plate and cover with aluminum foil to rest.
To prepare the tofu, cut the tofu into 1/2" cubes and pat dry. Drizzle with 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil or avocado oil, toss to coat, sprinkle the tofu cubes with the cajun spice mix to coat and season with salt. Heat 1 tablespoon of avocado or olive oil in a pan over medium heat, add the tofu cubes, and fry on all sides until just golden brown, about 2-3 minutes a side. Remove from the heat and set aside.
MAKE THE SALAD
Place the torn romaine lettuce in a large bowl or in a large platter with sides. Top with the black beans, corn, peppers, dates, feta and red onion. Slice the avocado on the salad just before serving, top with the grilled chicken or tofu, garnish with the lime wedges, and serve with the tortilla chips and salad dressing. Alternately, you can toss the salad with the salad dressing before adding the avocado, chicken or tofu and lime wedges.
Make it vegan: use tofu and replace the feta with vegan feta or leave out the cheese and use maple syrup instead of honey.
Make it gluten-free: use certified gluten-free ingredients (ie: soy sauce)