Mexicali Chop with Crunchy Tortilla Strips

Serves 8
“When Real Food Daily first opened, I used to sneak away to a nearby Mexican-inspired restaurant for a black bean–and-corn salad with guacamole, chips, and a beer,” reminisces Ann Gentry, chef-owner of Real Food Daily in the Los Angeles area, and VT executive chef. “One day, I realized I could make my own version.” Extra dressing will keep two weeks in the fridge. Recipe courtesy of Real Food Daily.

Tortilla Strips

1 ½ tsp. canola oil

3 6-inch corn tortillas

½ tsp. chili powder

¼ tsp. maple crystals or sugar

⅛ tsp. salt

Dressing

½ cup olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp.)

2 tsp. ground cumin

2 tsp. ground coriander

1 tsp. sugar

1 tsp. salt

⅓ cup lime juice

¼ cup chopped green onion

¼ cup cilantro leaves

Pinch cayenne pepper

Salad

1 head romaine lettuce, sliced (8 cups)

2 medium tomatoes, chopped (2 cups)

1 avocado, diced (1 cup)

3 celery stalks, sliced (1 cup)

1 cucumber, seeded and diced (1 cup)

1 cup fresh or frozen, thawed corn kernels

¾ cup cooked pinto beans

½ cup jarred roasted red bell peppers, rinsed, drained, and sliced

⅓ cup finely chopped red onion

1. To make Tortilla Strips: Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush oil on tortillas. Cut in half, then cut into 1/8-inch-wide strips. Spread on baking sheet. Combine chili powder, maple crystals, and salt in bowl. Sprinkle chili powder mixture over strips. Bake 15 minutes, or until crisp. Cool.
2. To make Dressing: heat oil, garlic, cumin, coriander, sugar, and salt in saucepan 2 to 3 minutes over low heat, or until garlic begins to sizzle.
3. Blend remaining Dressing ingredients with garlic oil in blender until smooth.
4. Toss together all Salad ingredients with Tortilla Strips and 1/4 cup Dressing.

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