Southwestern Chopped Salad with a Kick!

Southwestern Chopped Salad... it's as beautiful as it is healthy and delicious! Lots of ingredients, cilantro dressing, a little spicy... what's not to like?! TablerPartyofTwo.comI love the Spring! Especially all the amazing produce that starts flooding into the farmers market and the local grocery stores. We tend to eat a bit lighter in the Spring than we do in the Winter, perhaps because of those veggies and that we love to grill outside when the evenings are warm. Last night, I put together one of my favorite salads I’ve been making for years, my Southwestern Chopped Salad with a Kick. Not only is it light and healthy, but it’s pretty, too!

You can choose whatever ingredients you’d like, but I typically use baby spinach, black beans, cherry tomatoes, persian cucumbers, jalapenos, red onion, scallions, roasted corn, avocado, black olives, pepitas and cojita cheese. It’s best served with crumbled tortilla chips on top for some added crunch. Since I’m still trying to eat paleo (or in this case, mostly paleo), I left out the chips.

Southwestern Chopped Salad Ingredients

Chopped salads are one of my FAVORITE things in the world. I know… that was a big statement, but it’s true. And by chopped, I mean really chopped. One of my pet peeves is ordering a delicious sounding chopped salad at a restaurant and seeing it served with huge pieces of lettuce and veggies that I have to chop some more! I think I love chopped salad so much because, when the ingredients are finely chopped, they mix together in a way that creates food magic. At least to me.

I recommend using a glass bowl for this salad because the layers are really pretty. I take care in how I layer, making sure I don’t put two ingredients of the same color next to each other (with the exception of the jalapenos and scallions, which I mixed together as a layer).

While I was preparing the salad, I began toasting the pepitas on the stove top in a skillet, stirring them frequently, until they were nice and brown. 

Southwestern Chopped Salad Pepitas

Next, I prepped cojita cheese by crumbling it. Cojita typically comes in a round shaped that crumbles very easily. If you can’t find cojita, you could substitute pepper pack. But try hard to find the cojita because it’s SO GOOD!

Southwestern Chopped Salad Cheese

I started out with the spinach on the bottom, followed by the black beans and cherry tomatoes. I then added layers of cucumber, roasted corn, red onion, scallions and jalapenos, and black olives.

Southwestern Chopped Salad Layer

 As I add the ingredients, I concentrate on the outer sides of the bowl, which ends up leaving a bit of a hole in the middle. But that’s okay! There’s a simple solution.

Southwestern Chopped Salad is as pretty as it is delicious!

 After the layer of olives, I then fill the center hole with more baby spinach and black beans.
Southerwestern Chopped Salad

I then sprinkle the pepitas and cojita on top. (If you decide to add crumbled tortilla chips, do that prior to the pepitas and cheese).
Southwestern Chopped Salad Dressing

I make the dressing in just minutes using my Nutribullet. This vinaigrette, made primarily with olive oil, lime juice, chili power, cumin and garlic, is the perfect complement to the southwestern flavors. Just throw it all in the Nutribullet or blender and blast it for a few seconds.

Here’s how you make this amazing Southwestern Chopped Salad!

Southwestern Chopped Salad
Serves 6
A delicious combination of fresh veggies, black beans, roasted corn, cojita cheese and pepitas.
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  2. 1 cup baby spinach
  3. 8 oz. black beans, rinsed and drained
  4. 16 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  5. 1/2 a red onion, chopped
  6. 4 scallions, chopped
  7. 8 oz. roasted corn
  8. 1 persian cucumber, finely diced
  9. 1 large jalapeno pepper, chopped
  10. 1 avocado, sliced
  11. 1/2 cup cojita cheese, crumbled
  12. 1/2 cup pepitas
  13. 1/2 cup black olives
  14. Crushed tortilla chips (optional)
  16. 1 clove of garlic
  17. 1 tsp cumin
  18. 1/2 TBS chili powder
  19. 1/2 cup cilantro
  20. 1/2 cup olive oil
  21. Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste
  1. Over low heat, toast pepitas until brown and set aside.
  2. Crumble cojita cheese and set aside.
  3. In a clear glass salad bowl, layer the baby spinach, black beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, roasted corn, scallions, jalapenos, and olives.
  4. Judge the proportions and layer towards the outer sides of bowl.
  5. If needed, fill in the center with more spinach and beans.
  6. If using, add crumbled tortilla chips.
  7. Top with pepitas, cojita cheese and avocado.
  8. In a blender or Nutribullet, combine chili powder, cumin, cilantro, olive oil, lime juice, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth.
  9. Bring the layered salad and vinaigrette to the table. Just before serving, drizzle vinaigrette over the sald and toss to coat completely.
  1. The salad and dressing can be made the day before, but add tortilla chips (if using) and toss right before serving.
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I frequently serve this salad with grilled chicken. If I’m entertaining, I mix in the dressing prior to serving. If not, I just add to each plate so that the leftovers stay crisp and yummy! Also, when making this for more than six people, I double the recipe.

This layered Southwestern Chopped Salad is as pretty as it is delectable! What could possibly be better than a Southwestern Chopped Salad that tastes as good as it looks? Love…


Andrea Tabler |


Andrea Tabler


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  1. Hi Andrea – Looking forward to making this! Thanks so much. xoxo

  2. michelle donahue says:

    I love the look of this salad and know that it is healthy too! I will give it a try this weekend.
    Your photography is beautiful by the way.

  3. Oh, my! That looks amazing. I’m drooling…..

  4. I can’t even tell you how much I want this salad!! It looks so fresh, colorful and delicious ๐Ÿ˜€ Thank you for sharing with Friday Favorites, we love having you join us!

  5. What a gorgeous looking salad here. Pinned it!!! โ™ฅ

  6. I’ve got to get my hands on some cojita cheese

  7. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a chopped salad before! At least, not one that was expressly called a chopped salad. This one looks amazing! Pinning because I so need to try this.

  8. This looks wonderful. We love things with a kick, so this would be a hit at our house!

  9. Thank you for sharing on Idea Box link party!

  10. Jamie @ Love Bakes Good Cakes says:

    This TOTALLY sounds like my kinda salad, Andrea! Thank you so much for sharing it at Freedom Fridays this week! ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve pinned it and scheduled a Facebook share!

  11. Salads are so versatile and yummy! I enjoy trying new ones. This one looks great to try! Thanks for sharing your salad recipe at Inspire Me Mondays!

  12. Thanks for linking up to this week’s Tasty Tuesday Linky. I am pinning your recipe to the Tasty Tuesday Pinterest Board. Hope you’ll stop by on Tuesday and link up again,

  13. Wow these ingredients really take it up a notch and those photos are making me drool! Thanks so much for linking up at MeetUp Monday, and hope to see you again next week!

  14. This looks so delicious and perfect for summer. Can’t wait to give it a try! Thank you for sharing at Merry Monday!

  15. This salad looks so delicious! Pinning!

  16. This looks incredibly delicious! Thanks for linking up with What’s Cookin’ Wednesday!

  17. Oh my goodness this looks so delicious! I can totally see myself enjoying some of this on my patio on a warm summer day!

  18. This sounds so yummy, and I love that itโ€™s โ€œskinnyโ€.

  19. I adore a chopped salad, too! And yes, it must be really chopped. I like to have a bit of everything in my bite! This combination sounds so delicious – definitely will try soon!

  20. Thank you for sharing this recipe. It looks so good. I am on a search for great gluten free, vegan recipes. If I take out the cheese I have it. Im excited to try it. BTW I found your blog at Inspire Me Monday.

  21. I just pinned this! It looks ahhhh-mazing! Thanks for sharing. I can’t wait to make it! ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. Yum – that looks amazing! Pinning it to try, since I know my husband will love it! Thank you for sharing with us at the #HomeMattersParty

  23. I love that the salad itself didn’t have the spicy aspect but the dressing did so that if the salad was being used for a get together, people who didn’t like spicy could use a different dressing. Thanks for linking up with Delicious Dishes Recipe Party!


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