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Creamy homemade avocado-cilantro dressing is the perfect compliment to this Southwestern inspired salad filled with color, texture, and flavor. 

A beautiful Southwestern style salad with sections of roasted chickpeas, radish, corn, tomatoes, red onion, and cilantro. A jar of avocado dressing and bowl of tortilla crisps on the side. This Southwest salad is naturally vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free.

This time a few years ago I posted what’s become one of my most popular salad recipes: Viva La Fiesta Vegetarian Taco Salad. It’s Fiesta once again in Santa Barbara, which means the streets, hair, shops, everything is covered in confetti. I took the girls to one of the smaller carnivals yesterday to try some of the games. $30 later there were no prizes won, to the girls’ disappointment. Their smiles quickly returned with a couple of shave ices, though.

This Southwestern-inspired salad with sweet corn, tomatoes, carrot, crunchy romaine and flavorful roasted chickpeas was the perfect healthy end to a sugar-filled day. I’ve been enjoying this one a lot this summer when we just want a salad for dinner. For the parents who ask if my kids will really eat salads like this for dinner… Here’s the deal. My kiddos love all the components of a salad like this from the roasted chickpeas to the veggies, so I keep them separate for them. If I were to toss it together with the dressing it would be a big fat “nope” from them. There a some tips and variations for this Southwestern salad with chickpeas and avocado dressing, so let’s look at how to make it!

How to Make Avocado Salad Dressing

Avocado, cilantro, mustard, lime juice in a blender ready to blend some vegan avocado salad dressing.

I definitely reach for the bottled salad dressings more than I would like to admit, but every time I make a homemade dressing I’m so glad I did. Homemade avocado dressing is so quick, easy, creamy, and delicious. Pop a peeled and pitted avocado, cilantro, garlic, mustard, vinegar and the rest of the ingredients  in the blender. You shouldn’t need a high powered blender for this job.

Fresh homemade avocado salad dressing blended in a Vitamix blender.

Blend until smooth and creamy. You can thin this avocado dressing out with some water or a bit more lime juice or olive oil.

Green avocado salad dressing in a jar. This easy homemade avocado dressing is so flavorful and easy to make. It's naturally vegan and gluten-free.

Isn’t this avocado dressing in a jar so pretty? I love that green color.

Crispy Roasted Chickpeas

Chickpeas roasted on a sheet pan with cumin and chili pepper are a delicious crunchy vegan plant-based snack. They are perfect on this Southwester salad recipe.

We eat roasted chickpeas like popcorn around here. They’re so delicious when they are just out of the oven – salty and crisp on the outside, tender on the inside. I don’t recommend making these too far in advance, maybe an hour at most.

If you’re in a hurry, swap the roasted chickpeas for drained and rinsed black beans and add them straight to the salad.

Vegan Southwest Salad

What makes this a Southwest style salad, you ask? To me it’s the corn, beans, avocado, and cilantro. A sprinkle of crispy tortilla chip strips ads a wonderful salty crunch, but is optional. A more authentic Southwest salad would probably use black beans rather than my crispy chickpeas. The non-vegan versions often use chicken and Cotija cheese.

 

Southwest Salad recipe with avocado dressing, corn, roasted chickpeas, tomatoes, cilantro, and avocado is a delicious vegetarian, vegan, plant-based dinner salad. A bowl of healthy vegan Southwestern salad with chickpeas gets coated with homemade avocado dressing for a delicious vegetarian meal.

More Favorite Salads

Southwestern Salad with Avocado Dressing

A big beautiful Southwest salad with creamy avocado-cilantro dressing, corn, tomatoes, and roasted chickpeas (or black beans) is a hearty vegan dinner salad filled with flavor.

Ingredients:

For the Avocado Dressing

  • 1 avocado, pitted
  • ½ tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons agave syrup
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ¼ tsp cumin
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup water

For the Roasted Chickpeas

  • 2 (15 oz.) cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans) drained and patted dry
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder

For the Salad

  • 1 large head Romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3 ears fresh corn, charred or raw, kernels cut off
  • 4 radishes, sliced or chopped
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup crunchy tortilla strips (optional)

Directions:

  1. To make the avocado dressing, scoop the avocado flesh into a blender. Add the vinegar, mustard, lime juice, garlic, cilantro, syrup, salt, pepper, cumin, and olive oil. Blend until smooth. Slowly add the water until the dressing is as thin as you would like it.
  2. To roast the chickpeas, heat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat chickpeas with olive oil, cumin, salt, and chili powder. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast until crispy, about 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, make the salad. Place the chopped lettuce in a bowl. Add the onion, carrots, tomatoes, corn kernels, radish, cilantro, and tortilla chips.
  4. Dress the salad with the avocado dressing and top with the roasted chickpeas. I like to keep the chickpeas separate and add them on top so that they stay crunchy.

Notes:

If you’re in a hurry, skip the roasted chickpeas and use drained and rinsed black beans.