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Chopped Garden Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing

This salad is great for a quick dinner but is equally lovely for a potluck or picnic.  It is super easy to change out the veg to things you have on hand.  The peppers can be any color, though the red and orange brighten up the plate beautifully.  Try summer squash, zucchini or celery in addition or in place of the cucumber.  I used fresh greens from our garden and mixed in some dinosaur kale.  If you have reluctant kale eaters, this dish is a winner because the bold and creamy flavors of the bean/veg mix really cover the kale and make it magically blend in with other greens.  Start with a bit of kale if you're not used to it, but definitely give it a try.  I used to wonder how people could eat kale, but now it's probably my favorite green!  Arugula, beet greens, frisee, endive, romaine, radicchio... they all work really well with this salad.  It's hard to go wrong! You'll find that the flavors in the bean/veg portion of this dish get better on the 2nd day... so if you have leftovers, you're in for a treat!  With time to plan ahead you can prep this the day before you plan to eat it so you'll have that intense garlicky flavor throughout. Also, the dressing is great on other things as well.  Because of the avocado the benefits of some healthy whole food fats... a nice option for those who might normally choose a processed creamy style dressing or ranch dressing. [caption id="attachment_419" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Chopped Garden Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing"]Chopped Garden Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing[/caption] Chopped Garden Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing (makes 4 generous servings) Dressing: 1 large ripe tomato, skinned and quartered (if you're using a Vitamix leave the skin on) 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 shallot, minced ½ cup cilantro 2 avocado or 1 cup “wholly guacamole” juice of ½ a lime ¼ tsp black pepper pinch of salt ¼-½ tsp ground chipotle pepper, optional Salad: 6 cups fresh greens (1 use 2 cups of greens per adult, 1 cup per child) 1 English cucumber, diced 1 orange pepper, diced 1 red pepper, diced 3 cups cooked black beans, (drained and rinsed if using canned beans) Make the dressing by putting all dressing ingredients into your food processor and blending until smooth.  Taste and adjust for heat if you like --- add ¼- ½ tsp chipotle pepper if you like things spicy. Next, dice your veggies and mix them with the cooked beans.  Toss with the dressing and set aside so the flavors combine. Tear or cut your greens into bite sized pieces.  When you’re plating, you can either lay down a bed of greens and top it with the veg mixture or mix everything together and put the tossed chopped salad onto the plates.  My family naturally mixes their veg in with their greens as soon as they dig in, but I admit that the plates look prettier if you put down the greens first and top them… but that’s just aesthetics!  If you are not serving this right away definitely keep the greens separate until you're ready to serve.  For portion sizes, I use 1 cup of the bean/veg mixture for each adult and 1/2-3/4 cup per child. Enjoy!

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