When I was going to college in Utah, I fell in love with Cafe Rio salads and discovered the “layered salad” which can be any variation of rice, beans, vegetables, greens, tortillas, etc. This particular salad is adapted from one of my current favorite cookbooks, The Roasted Vegetableby Andrea Chesman.
You can use other vegetables, but I find this combination to work especially well together. (I also love them all, so that helps!) I try to buy things that are in season, but I can’t help but grab peppers and zucchini — they taste a lot better in the winter than tomatoes! Slice everything up, coat them with the chipotle-cumin oil and let them roast until they’re nice and caramelized….
(mmm… I could eat roasted vegetables every day of my life)
I topped mine with some homemade buttermilk ranch (I’ll have that for you shortly), but a simple drizzle of oil and vinegar would also be great.
Wanna know something cool? My kids love this. Of course I don’t give it to them like the photo below. They’d pick all the vegetables out. Instead, I chop some of the roasted vegetables (and some greens), then mix it together with the rice, beans, and a little dressing. My three-year-old inhales the whole bowl. My two-year-old picks around the peppers, but she does pretty well, too. When it comes to feeding kids, I’m finding presentation (and texture) is key!
If you’re wondering what to do with the rest of the chipotles in the can (I remove the seeds, puree the peppers and sauce, and store it in the fridge for a couple of weeks) here are a few ideas:
Hidden Veggie Chipotle Taco Meat
Roast Chipotle Chicken Tacos
Chicken Burritos Grande
Grilled Turkey Burgers + Smoky Aioli
Smoked Gouda Chipotle Grits
Chipotle Sweet Potato Corn Chowder
Grilled Chicken Salad with Chipotle-Lime Vinaigrette
Shredded Chipotle Beef Burritos
Chipotle Steak and Potato Soup (Use the leftover shredded beef from the previous link to make this!)
Chipotle-Roasted Vegetable Layered Salad
For the beans:
1 15-ounce can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 tsp ground cumin
pinch of salt
1/2 cup salsa or pico de gallo
For the vegetables:
1 red bell pepper, cut into matchsticks
1 poblano pepper, cut into matchsticks (or substitute another bell pepper)
1 medium zucchini, cut into matchsticks
1 medium onion, halved and sliced very thinly
1 cup fresh or frozen corn
3 T heat-safe oil (like regular olive, grapeseed or coconut)
1-2 tsp minced or pureed chipotles in adobo sauce (see note)
1 tsp ground cumin
salt and pepper, to taste
For the salad:
Hot cooked white or brown rice
Garnishes: buttermilk dressing, vinaigrette, sour cream, shredded cheese, lime wedges, cilantro, etc.
If you're using brown rice, get that started first and it will be done when the vegetables are ready. Preheat the oven to 425.
Place all sliced vegetables on a large rimmed baking sheet. In a small bowl whisk together the oil, chipotles, and cumin. Pour over the vegetables and sprinkle a pinch or two of salt and pepper, to taste. Using your hands, toss the vegetables in the oil mixture and ensure that everything is coated well. Spread evenly in the pan and roast for 35-40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so and shaking the pan to redistribute the vegetables evenly.
To prepare the beans, place the drained and rinsed beans in a small saucepan with about 2-3 T of water. Stir in cumin, salsa, and season to taste. Let them simmer over medium heat until they're heated through.
To build the salads, start with a handful or two of salad greens, then a couple of spoonfuls of rice, then beans, then vegetables. Top with desired garnishes.
1. You can find canned chipotles in adobo sauce in the latin or ethnic aisle of the grocery store. I like to remove the seeds and stems from the peppers and puree the peppers with the adobo sauce from the can. It keeps in a small container in the fridge for a few weeks. That's why it looks really smooth in the photo above. If you can't find it or don't want to use it, you can substitute 1/4 - 1/2 tsp of dried chipotle powder (in the spice section). Smoked paprika would also be a good substitute.
adapted from The Roasted Vegetable by Andrea Chesman