What day is it again? I went on a whirlwind trip to California this week. I flew west to sunny Sacramento on Monday afternoon and stepped back into heavy, humid Kansas City air on Wednesday night. In between those flights, I learned all about almonds (we even toured an almond orchard!), caught up with Erin, met some awesome dietitians and drank plenty of California wine, of course. I’ll tell you more about it later!
I wanted to share another use for coconut bacon, which I’ve been snacking on straight from the bag this morning. This delightful grilled salad fit the bill. It screams SUMMER, almost as loudly as the summer bugs’ non-stop outdoor orchestra performance. (I can hear them now. I’m sorry for mentioning them. Let’s talk salad.)
This sweet-and-spicy salad features peppery arugula, black beans, grilled peppers, corn and red onions, avocado and feta, tossed in homemade chili-lime dressing. The coconut bacon is a lovely accent here, but if you’re still skeptical or just plain in a hurry, feel free to substitute crispy tortilla strips or some crumbled tortilla chips. It’ll be fantastic either way!
This salad was one of my first forays into grilling. Granted, I’m no grill master, but then again, grilling isn’t exactly rocket science. It’s more like, primitive science. Caveman-level stuff. I made do with my modern electric grill/griddle, which worked just fine!
For those without grills, you can roast the vegetables in a 425 degree Fahrenheit oven, turning occasionally, until they’re slightly charred on the edges. I hope this salad fits into your Labor Day plans!
- 4 to 6 cups baby arugula
- 1 large red bell pepper, seeded, membranes removed, sliced into 1-inch wide strips (see photos)
- 1 small red onion, halved and sliced into ½-inch wide wedges (see photos)
- 1 large ear of corn, shucked
- 1 can (14 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained, or 1½ cups cooked black beans
- ½ cup cilantro, mostly leaves, chopped
- 1 avocado, diced
- ½ cup crumbled feta
- 1 big handful coconut bacon (or crispy tortilla strips or crumbled tortilla chips)
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Scant ¼ cup fresh lime juice
- 1 small jalapeño, seeded, membranes removed and chopped
- 1 teaspoon honey or agave nectar
- ½ to ¾ teaspoon ancho chili powder or regular chili powder (to taste)
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- First, preheat your grill (if you're using an electric grill, heat to 400 degrees Fahrenheit). Toss the prepared bell pepper, corn and onion with enough olive oil to lightly coat all surfaces (I used about 1 teaspoon). Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill the vegetables, turning occasionally, until they have grill marks and the peppers and onions have softened a bit. You might find that the corn takes longer than the pepper and onions. Transfer the cooked vegetables to a cutting board to cool.
- While the vegetables are on the grill, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients until emulsified. Taste and adjust seasoning (more spice, honey or salt) if desired.
- Roughly chopped the bell peppers and onions. Slice the kernels from the cob. In a large serving bowl, combine the greens, bell pepper, onion, corn, drained beans, cilantro, avocado, feta and coconut bacon (if using). Drizzle on enough dressing to lightly coat the greens when tossed (you'll probably end up with extra). Toss, add salt and pepper to taste, and serve (if you're adding tortilla strips or chips, add them as garnishes just before serving).
Make it vegan/dairy free: Skip the feta. Definitely add some salty, crispy tortillas to make up for the saltiness of the feta.
Make it soy free: Skip the coconut bacon in lieu of tortilla strips.
Storage suggestions: Everything but the arugula and avocado keeps well for a few days. If you know you'll be eating leftovers, store the greens and avocados separately and toss just before serving.
Prepare in advance: If you're already firing up the grill for another recipe, you might as well throw on extra peppers, onions and corn for tomorrow dinner's salad.
If you love this recipe: You'll also love my feta fiesta kale salad, summer squash and corn tacos with avocado chimichurri, sweet corn salad wraps and heirloom BLT salad (more appropriately titled CBKHT salad: coconut bacon, kale and heirloom tomato!).