Southwest Salad with Avocado Dressing

Southwest Salad with Avocado DressingI love salads. They’re typically quick and easy. They’re usually considered healthy. They’re made from good-for-us greens — BUT. Raise your hand if you get sick and tired of lettuce. Yeah, me too!  And that’s why I was eager to attend a cooking class hosted by Chef Ashley Pado at Today’s Kitchen Store in Wooster, Ohio: Salads Without Lettuce. 

Chef Ashley Pado making her Southwest Salad

The first recipe prepared before our eager eyes was Southwest Salad with Avocado Dressing — the dish Chef Ashley created during a recent episode of Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen. [Watch a few snippets of the after-show here to see her challenges!] In the midst of competitor sabotages and show stress, Ashley created a delightful salad sans  lettuce. The judge said her beef was cooked perfectly, the flavors were delightful, but he missed the lettuce. What?! Who says a salad must include lettuce, right? 

Judge Simon may have missed the greens but I’m betting you won’t! This recipe calls for flank steak, but any steak cut will do. Ashley used Certified Angus Beef ® brand skirt steak in her demo. Other ingredients include grilled corn, black beans, red peppers, onions, avocados, cilantro, and a delightfully creamy avocado dressing. And as is usually the case in any fabulous recipe, this one has a secret ingredient…

“Buy the vanilla-flavored Greek yogurt,” Ashley says. “It adds just a little bit of extra surprise that’s great in this dressing!”

Southwest Salad with Avocado Dressing

Author Chef Ashley Pado


  • 1 1 to 1-1/2 lb. flank steak
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 Tablespoon granulated onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 cups corn cooked and cut off the cob
  • 2 cups canned black beans rinsed and drained
  • 1 red onion minced
  • 2 bunches cilantro divided
  • 2 red bell peppers minced
  • 2 ripe avocados peeled and pitted
  • 1/2 cup olive oil or grapeseed oil
  • juice from 1 lime about 2 Tablespoons
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons Greek vanilla yogurt


  • Combine garlic, ginger, cumin, onion powder, cayenne, sugar, salt, pepper; mix well and rub into both sides of raw steak. Grill to desired doneness. Let rest while preparing the rest of this dish.
  • Mince 1 bunch cilantro. In a large bowl, combine corn, beans, onion, minced cilantro, peppers; season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  • Prepare dressing by mixing avocados, oil, lime juice, yogurt, garlic, vinegar and cilantro in a blender or food processor; blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Toss dressing with corn mixture (use clean hands in a large bowl).
  • Plate the salad and top with thinly-sliced steak. Garnish with additional chopped cilantro if desired.





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  • comment-avatar
    Jenny April 14, 2015 (11:37 am)

    This looks delicious. I’m not very inventive when it comes to making salads…so the thought of making salads without lettuce is daunting. I took a peek at Today’s Kitchen Stores Facebook at the other salads. YUM!
    I’m off to Pinterest for more inspiration.

  • comment-avatar
    Susanne April 17, 2015 (1:51 pm)

    Looks super tasty!

  • comment-avatar
    plasterers bristol May 19, 2015 (1:54 pm)

    Hmm these look delicious, thanks for posting up this recipe, looks quite simple to make.