Santa Fe Salad
This healthy Santa Fe Salad Bowl features crispy tofu, plenty of fresh vegetables and a zesty cilantro lime dressing. Don’t forget crunchy tortilla chips for topping!
About the Recipe
Fresh, healthy and packed with flavour, this Santa Fe salad with black beans, corn and cilantro lime vinaigrette is sure to be a new favourite!
You’ll love the delicious combinations of crisp vegetables, seasoned crispy tofu and tangy lime dressing. It’s also a great option for those trying to include more plant-based meals in their diet without sacrificing taste.
This recipe is also an excellent source of plant-based protein and dietary fiber with 26 and 17 grams per serving, respectively.
Read on for how to make this flavourful dish.
We’ll cover what you’ll need, a quick step-by-step visual overview of how to make it, tips and variations and of course, the full recipe for when you’re ready to make it.
Ingredients & Substitutions
The following section includes notes on specific ingredients and possible substitutions.
Please scroll down to the recipe card to find the complete recipe with ingredient measurements.
Santa Fe Salad Ingredients
- Tofu: You can use firm or extra firm tofu.
- Oil: You can use any cooking oil for the tofu.
- Tamari: Tamari or soy sauce is suitable for the tofu.
- Spices: You’ll need cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika and garlic powder. If you want some heat, you can add up to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper.
- Romaine Lettuce: The salad calls for romaine lettuce for the greens but you could also use mixed salad greens, arugula or spinach.
- Tomato: You can use any fresh tomato but cherry tomatoes or grape tomato work well.
- Red Onion: You can use raw red onion or make quick pickled red onion.
- Avocado: Avocado adds a nice, cooling creaminess to the salad so I’d recommend using it though you can leave it off if needed.
- Black Beans: Canned black beans work great but you can always cook your own from scratch. You’ll need about 1/2 cup beans per salad. Pinto beans or kidney beans can be substituted.
- Corn: You can use fresh, frozen or canned corn kernels.
- Tortilla Chips: Optional but delicious to crumble over your salad for crunch.
Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette Ingredients
- Olive Oil: Use a good quality olive oil for the salad dressing.
- Maple Syrup: You’ll need just a little maple syrup to balance the acidity in the dressing. You could substitute honey or agave syrup.
- Garlic: 1 clove of garlic, suggested to grate it so it’s smooth in the dressing. You can use a citrus planer or fine grater for this.
- Seasoning: Use ground cumin, dried oregano, salt and pepper.
- Lime: You’ll need 1 fresh lime to make the juice and zest.
- Cilantro: You’ll need fresh cilantro.
Step 1: Make the Tofu
Drain and pat the block of tofu dry then break it into 1/2-inch pieces in a medium bowl. Add the oil, tamari and spices, season with salt and mix well to coat.
Transfer the tofu to a baking sheet, spreading it out in an even layer then bake for 20-24 minutes until browned and crispy.
Step 2: Prepare the Dressing
Add all of the dressing ingredients to a bowl or measuring cup and whisk until combined, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
Step 3: Chop the Veggies
While the tofu is finishing baking, chop up the red onion, tomato and lettuce.
Quick Tip: You can use raw red onion for a crunchy bite or make quick pickled red onion for a sweeter, tangier option.
If you’re making quick pickled red onions, make them first or right after get the tofu in the oven as they’re best after sitting for 15-30 minutes.
Step 4: Assemble the Salad
You can either add the lettuce, tomatoes and 1/2 of the dressing to a large bowl and toss to coat, or divide everything between 3 serving bowls.
Mixing the lettuce, tomato and half of the dressing separately helps get a good coating of dressing on the lettuce but either way is fine.
If you mixed up the lettuce and dressing separately, divide that between 3 bowls, then add the beans, corn, avocado and tofu to each, drizzling the remaining dressing over top.
Frequently Asked Questions
I would suggest tempeh as a substitution for the tofu.
You could also use about 2 cups of chickpeas and either roast them or cook them in pan on the stovetop until crispy and browned.
This version of Santa Fe salad is high in dietary fiber, protein, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals for a balanced, nutrient-rich meal.
If you make 3 servings from the recipe, each salad will provide about 600 calories, which would be easy to fit into a nutrition plan. If you make 4 servings, each salad will be under 500 calories.
Yes! This recipe works well for meal prep. Assemble 3-4 salads in airtight containers, leaving off the avocado and storing the dressing in a separate container.
When you’re ready to enjoy, add avocado and the dressing. The salads will keep in the fridge in airtight container for up to 3 days.
- Make this creamy Southwest dressing instead of the vinaigrette.
- Make this cashew chipotle sauce as an alternative dressing or in addition to the cilantro lime dressing.
- Add any colour of diced bell pepper or roasted poblano peppers.
- Sprinkle with feta cheese.
- Add 1/2 cup cooked quinoa or brown rice per bowl for a heartier salad.
- Serve with a dollop of sour cream and/or salsa.
- Add 1 cup diced mango.
- Top with thinly sliced jalapeno.
- For extra flavour, char the corn according to this tempeh bowl recipe.
- Add a scoop of cilantro cabbage slaw.
Storing & Making Ahead
- The dressing can be made 1-2 days in advance and stored in the fridge.
- The tofu could be made 1-2 days ahead of time but I think it’s best when fresh from the oven.
- Assembled salads will keep for 2-3 days in the fridge. I would recommend storing the dressing separately and leaving the avocado off until serving.
Did you try this recipe?
I’d love to hear about it! Click here to leave a review and be sure to tag me @runningonrealfood if you post it on social media.
Santa Fe Salad
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Cook Time: 25 mins
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: 3
- Category: Salad
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Vegan
This healthy Santa Fe salad with crispy baked tofu, fresh veggies, black beans, corn and zesty cilantro lime dressing is the perfect combination of flavour and nutrition.
For the Tofu
- 1 approx. 400g package tofu, drained and patted dry
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 tbsp tamari
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp garlic powder
For the Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 garlic clove, grated
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- 1 lime, juiced and zested (about 3 tbsp juice and 1 tbsp zest)
- ¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped
- salt and pepper
For the Salad
- 6 cups chopped romaine lettuce (185 g)
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved (about 260 g)
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion (45 g)
- 1 avocado, sliced
- 1 14 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup corn kernels (130 g)
- tortilla chips, optional
- Prepare the Tofu: Preheat oven to 400 F. Over a medium bowl, break tofu into pieces, about ½-inch in size. Drizzle oil and tamari over top, then sprinkle with chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika and garlic powder. Season with salt, then toss to coat.
- Bake the Tofu: Transfer tofu to a greased baking sheet, spreading out in an even layer. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 20-24 min, stirring halfway through, until deep brown and crisped.
- Make the Dressing: In a bowl or measuring cup, add oil, maple syrup, garlic, cumin, oregano, lime zest and juice and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper, then whisk to combine.
- Toss Salad: To a large bowl, add lettuce, tomatoes and roughly half of the dressing. Toss to combine.
- Serve: Divide the salad between 3 bowls. Top each with black beans, corn, avocado and tofu. Drizzle the remaining dressing over top of each. Crumble tortilla chips over top, if desired.
If you prefer, you can make pickled red onions instead of using raw red onion. Please use this pickled red onion recipe and prepare them before you start the rest of the recipe.
The recipe makes 3-4 servings. I like making 3 so there is more dressing for each salad but you can definitely stretch it to 4 servings. I often make 4 servings for meal prep (2 for dinner, 2 for lunch the next day). If you make 4 servings, each salad is 462 calories.
- Serving Size: 1 salad
- Calories: 616
- Sugar: 10 g
- Sodium: 1244 mg
- Fat: 38 g
- Carbohydrates: 49 g
- Fiber: 17 g
- Protein: 26 g
Keywords: santa fe salad
I just made this. I’m not a huge salad person but this was really good. Great dressing and tofu!
Great to hear! I’m so glad you enjoyed it.