Make this Tex-Mex salad with your choice of homemade or canned ranch style beans for a quick, flavorful, and healthy lunch, side dish, or light meatless dinner.
How about an “appetite pleasing” salad recipe that’s so good you just may start planning your lunches out as well as your dinners?
After revisiting my healthier American “French” dressing recipe and remembering the salad I learned about in my college years, I realized the salad I mentioned there needed to be a recipe of it’s own! I mean, something I still thought about from that long ago has to be worth it, right?
Tex-Mex Salad with Beans, Tomatoes & Chips
With lettuce tomatoes, onions, olives, cheese, and chips it has the basis of many a good Tex-Mex salad. What sets this apart, in my opinion, are the type of beans added and the incredibly flavorful homemade salad dressing. While you may want to short cut and use a bottled dressing, the experience will not be the same. Trust me on this (plus the dressing takes 5 minutes to make – really).
But of course I had to change the salad from my college days up a bit to make it healthier and easier. First was coming up with a less sugary and oily dressing. Then I only use organic chips to avoid GMOs (why can’t Fritos be made with organic corn? Sigh). Less cheese was next. And finally, I addressed the beans:
I’ve always just bought these special cans solely to make this salad (see? It really is that good.). I have to admit I didn’t look at the ingredients until recently – I know, shocking. But there are some things that are special treats that fall into the 20% of the 80-20, you know?
Anyway, when I looked, they aren’t so bad:
Water, Pinto Beans, Tomato Puree, Blend of Vegetable Oils and Animal Fat(Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil and/or Partially Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil and Rendered Beef Fat), Contains Less than 2% of: Salt, Chili Peppers, Sugar, Paprika, Vinegar, Spices, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Natural Flavorings, Soy Lecithin.
But the partially hydrogenated oils, natural flavorings (that I’ve discovered aren’t all that natural!), and soy lecithin gave me pause enough to see if I could make my own version. But still make it easy because lets face it, who’s going to spend a lot of time on lunch?
Plus it would be nice to be able to make this salad whenever I wanted no matter if I had the special beans on hand or not.
Using the ingredient list, a couple recipes I found online , and a can of pinto beans I did create a version I liked. You can see in the photo above that my version on the left is darker and a bit thicker, but the flavor in the salad was really similar.
As far as easy, it’s a matter of dumping all the ingredients (things most people have in pantries: beans, tomato paste, water, seasonings) in a pot, bringing them to a boil and then letting them cool while you make the salad. It adds just a few minutes, really.
Once the salad base is ready, you mix in the beans, chips, and dressing right before eating to keep everything crunchy and fresh.
I think this would make a great mason jar salad with the beans and dressing on the bottom and the chips in a separate baggie. Dump them all in a bowl where ever you are (or mix in the jar if there’s room) and you have lunch!
Do you have to make your own ranch style beans? No – go ahead and stock up on the cans if you care. But for those who don’t – or want to ability to have this fun Tex-Mex salad whenever you want – the 5 minute homemade version is a great option.
But you do have to make the wonderful dressing – it makes the recipe. The bonus is you’ll have a great homemade dressing to use on other salads, too.
This may take a few more steps than a more basic salad, but it’s definitely worth it – and worthy of it’s own spot on AOC!