Vegan Fajita Salad with Fresh Black Bean Salsa

I am all about salads this time of year. There is nothing more refreshing on a hot day than fresh food, especially with so many fresh garden vegetables slowly becoming available. This salad is all the right kinds of good. I made a fresh black bean salsa (deviating a bit from a Texas Caviar recipe I had) that is light and crisp and just a bit tangy/zesty. I was eating it by the spoonful. That salsa paired with some grilled fajita vegetables and yummy grilled tofu (totally optional) makes such a pretty combination that I'll be having food dreams for days. In fact, it's so good that I'm going to have it for dinner again tonight. And the night after that. And the night after that. And then I'm going to lick the salsa bowl clean. And cuddle it to sleep.

Too much?

For the Salsa (loosely adapted from a Revolt recipe, Texas Caviar):

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can black eyed peas, rinsed and drained
1 4 oz can green chilies
1/2 of a large red onion
1/4 of a red bell pepper, finely diced
1/2 of a green bell pepper, finely diced
3 to 4 large garden tomatoes (I used the kind sold on the vine), diced
1 bunch fresh cilantro, minced
2 limes, squeezed
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon garlic powder
8 oz Italian dressing (I used Wishbone Robusto Italian)

Directions: Rinse and drain your beans and combine them in a bowl with the green chilies. Set aside. Chop your bell peppers (save what remains for the fajita salad!) and onions and combine with the beans and chilies. Dice your tomatoes and pour into the bowl with the other ingredients (get all those yummy juices in there!). For the cilantro, I like to rinse it, remove as many of the stems as possible, kind of roll it all up into a ball, and chop it up finely using kitchen shears. Add it, and the rest of the spices, to the salsa. Then, using a small citrus juicer, squeeze the limes and add their juice to the salsa, giving everything a really good stir. Finally pour 8 oz (usually half of a store bought bottle) of Italian dressing over the salsa and stir it together. Refrigerate until serving.

This salsa can be made in advance; in fact, I recommend it. Letting it sit allows all those flavors to meld together. I like to make it in the morning and then store in the fridge until dinner time. It seems to get better after sitting for a day or two and can be kept in the fridge for a week (if it lasts that long).

If you'd like to add tofu to your salad, I marinated one 12.3 oz package extra-firm Tofu in about 4 oz of Italian dressing (leftover from the salsa). I recommend these tips for marinating tofu to perfection. I know, it sounds like a strange combination, tofu in Italian dressing to top a fajita salad, but something about all those flavors together is perfect. Tofu is not necessary here, I find this perfectly tasty with just the salsa and veggies atop the leafy greens. Tofu does give it some extra umpf, though. If you're a meat eater, try pairing this with white fish, grilled chicken, or slices of steak.

Vegan Fajita Salad, serves 4:

3/4 of a red bell pepper (leftover from the salsa), sliced
1/2 of a green bell pepper (leftover from the salsa), sliced
1/2 of a red onion (leftover from the salsa), thinly sliced
1 zucchini squash, sliced

1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon coconut oil

12.3 oz package extra-firm Tofu, marinated in 4 oz Italian dressing, optional

8 cups leafy greens, such as romaine lettuce and spinach

Directions: Slice the leftover vegetables  (red bell pepper, green bell pepper, red onion) you saved from making the salsa and a zucchini. Melt the coconut oil in a pan over medium high heat and add all the vegetables. Cook until tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Once tender add all the seasoning and cook for another 5 minutes, reducing the heat slightly. While the vegetables are cooking, grill up the marinated tofu in a separate pan until crispy and golden brown.

Once the vegetables and tofu are fully cooked, place 2 cups of leafy greens (per person) in a bowl and top with 1/4 of the vegetables and tofu. Also top with 1/4 to 1/2 a cup of salsa (or as much as you want!).

Don't be surprised if you eat half of that bowl of salsa, with chips, in one sitting. Or if you want to eat this salad again and again and again.