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Mexican Green Salad with Jalapeño-Cilantro Dressing

This healthy Mexican green salad recipe is the perfect fresh side for your favorite Mexican meals! It’s also a delicious, light meal on its own. Recipe yields 4 large salad servings, 6 medium or 8 side salads.

Prep Time

    •    Prep time: 30 minutes
    •    Cook time: 5 minutes
    •    Yield: Serves 6



    •    ⅔ cup pepitas (green pumpkin seeds)
    •    ½ teaspoon olive oil
    •    ½ teaspoon chili powder
    •    Pinch of salt
    •    5 ounces baby spring mix
    •    6 ounces romaine lettuce, chopped
    •    2 cups grated cauliflower (about ½ small cauliflower—you can grate it on the holes of a large box grater or finely slice it on a mandoline, then roughly chop)
    •    2 cups finely chopped purple cabbage (about ½ small cabbage)
    •    1 pint (2 cups) cherry tomatoes, quartered
    •    1 small cucumber, halved, seeded and thinly sliced (no need to peel)
    •    1 small red onion, chopped
    •    ⅔ cup crumbled feta cheese
    •    2 ripe avocados (thinly slice just before serving)

Jalapeño-Cilantro Dressing

    •    ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
    •    ½ cup lime juice (from about 4 limes)
    •    ½ cup lightly packed cilantro (mostly leaves)
    •    1 small jalapeño, seeds and ribs removed, and roughly chopped
    •    1 tablespoon tahini (optional, for a more creamy dressing)
    •    1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
    •    1 teaspoon ground cumin
    •    ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
    •    1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
    •    ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
    •    Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional, for extra heat)


  1. First, toast the pepitas: combine the pepitas, olive oil, chili powder and a pinch of salt in a medium skillet over medium heat. Toast the pepitas, stirring frequently (don’t let them burn), until they are turning bold on the edges and making little popping noises, about 4 to 7 minutes. Set the skillet aside to cool.
  2. In a large salad bowl, combine the spring mix, chopped romaine, cauliflower, cabbage, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, onion, feta cheese, and toasted pepitas. Gently toss, then set aside.
  3. To make the dressing: Combine all of the ingredients but the red pepper flakes in a blender. Blend until smooth. Taste, and add extra salt if it needs some extra oomph, and or a pinch of red pepper flakes if you’d like more heat. Blend again, then transfer to a small jar with a spout, for serving.
  4. Divide the salad into individual bowls, top with slices of avocado, and drizzle dressing just before serving. If you intend to have leftovers, store the salad separately from the dressing, and toss individual servings with dressing just before serving. The salad will keep well this way for about 4 to 5 days.


    •    Make it dairy free: Omit the feta cheese. You might want to add a dollop of cashew sour cream

    •    Make it vegan: See dairy-free instructions above, and use maple syrup instead of honey.

    •    Change it up: Hate cilantro? Omit it! For a lighter salad, choose either the feta or avocado, instead of both. To make it extra crunchy and savory, add skillet-toasted tortilla strips or a small handful of crushed tortilla chips.

    •    Recommended equipment: I used this mandoline to shred the cabbage and cauliflower. Mandolines are dangerous; watch your fingers at all times!

This great family recipe is thanks to Cookie and Kate at


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