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It’s officially summer, so I figure it’s about time I share another salad recipe with you! Today I’m bringing you this Santa Fe Salad. I’m sure you’re probably familiar with this classic but we’re putting our own twist on it to make it vegan and oil-free! We swapped out the chicken for grilled tempeh and made our own homemade cashew based dressing. Just as tangy, creamy, and delicious as the original. The perfect salad for meal prep, hot summer nights, and when you just don’t feel like cooking!
Putting together this salad is super simple and can be done within minutes if you have your ingredients and dressing prepped ahead of time! It’s the ultimate easy summer recipe.
A few tips for easy prep!
If you have an Instant Pot, I highly recommend steaming your corn and tempeh in there together for this recipe. It’s two minutes of high pressure cooking with one cup of water and an immediate steam release. TWO MINUTES. A huge time saver and the corn is perfect EVERY TIME. Instant Pot…I love you.
For the crispy corn tortillas, you can buy store-bought, but homemade is so easy t00! All you need to do is a cut your corn tortillas in half and then into thin strips. Line them on a cookie sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes or until crispy! You can even do this without oil but I usually add a little drizzle and then finish with a sprinkle of salt.
And finally, a few tips for making the dressing!
I recommend making this dressing at least a few hours ahead of time so it has time to refrigerate. When it cools, it thickens up and allows the flavors to meld together.
I also recommend adjusting the amount of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce to taste. I have found that the spice level between brands can change quite a bit. Taste your adobo sauce before adding it to your dressing so you know what you’re working with! It’s always easier to add more spice than to take out spice! If you’re looking for a brand to buy, I usually get this one. But I have also bought this one, and find it much milder!
everything to know about tempeh!
Now I know some of you might be thinking…what is tempeh?! Before I went vegan I had no clue what it is was or how to prepare it so I am quickly going to go over some frequently asked tempeh questions and give you the ultimate low-down on tempeh!
- What is tempeh? Tempeh is a soy product. It is essentially soybeans that have been fermented into a brick.
- Are tempeh and tofu the same? Although both tempeh and tofu are soy products, they are not the same! The two main differences are that tempeh is fermented and made from whole soybeans whereas tofu is not fermented and made from soy milk.
- What does tempeh taste like? Tempeh has a nutty flavor and can be bitter. It’s also pretty hearty making it a great meat substitute.
- How do I prepare tempeh? Like tofu, tempeh will absorb the flavor of whatever marinade or spice you are using with it. It can be grilled, added to chilis and stews, used as lunch meat and more. It’s an all around great meat substitute, like in these curried meatballs! One of my personal favorites is making it into bacon bits. Check out that recipe here.
- Why does my tempeh taste bitter? Tempeh can taste bitter because it is a fermented product. Sort of like really tangy yogurt. I find the best way to get rid of this taste is to steam it for 15 minutes before preparing it.
- Do I have to cook tempeh? YES. Another big difference between tempeh and tofu is that you cannot eat tempeh raw. Tempeh must be cooked! A lot of store bought tempeh is pre-cooked but always check the package and consider cooking to be on the safe side!
I hope you guys give this one a try! It’s hearty, delicious, and the zesty, creamy dressing is pretty addicting!
Don’t forget to pin this recipe for later and leave me a comment down below if you like this recipe or have any questions.
And if you’re looking for more good summer recipes, check out these favorites:
- Kale and Beetroot Salad with Strawberry Balsamic Dressing
- Lemongrass and Coconut Yellow Curry
- 30 Minute Vegan Fajitas
- Slow Cooker Jackfruit Carnitas Tacos with Mango Salsa
- Easy Salsa Brava
A twist on the classic, this vegan Santa Fe Salad is just as hearty and protein packed as the original. The perfect salad for meal prep and busy weeknights!
- 1 large head of romaine lettuce, chopped
- 15 ounce can of black beans
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 block of tempeh
- 2 ears of corn (can substitute about 1 1/2 cups frozen corn)
- 6 corn tortillas, thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 cups raw, unsalted cashews
- 1 cup water
- 2/3 cup lime juice, freshly squeezed
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (adjust based on the spice level of your peppers and preference)
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1/2 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- Add all of the dressing ingredients to a high speed blender like the Vitamix and blend until completely smooth. If possible, do this at least a few hours ahead of time or overnight, so the dressing can chill in the fridge and thicken up.
- Steam your ears of corn and whole brick of tempeh in a steamer basket on the stovetop for 15 minutes or until corn is fully cooked. If you have an Instant Pot, place the trivet in the pot and add 1 cup of water. Add in the shucked corn ears and brick of tempeh. Cook on high pressure for 2 minutes. Make sure your Instant Pot valve is set to SEAL. Immediately release pressure once done.
- While your corn and tempeh steams, prepare the corn tortilla strips. Cut the corn tortillas in half and then into thin strips. Place them on cookie sheet, drizzle with oil, and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit on bottom rack of oven for 10 minutes or until crispy. Finish with a sprinkle of salt.
- Once tempeh has finished steaming, cut tempeh into thin strips and grill it in a grill pan or regular skillet to give it color, about 10 minutes. Finish with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
- Chop the romaine, cherry tomatoes, and cut the corn off of the cob.
- To a large serving bowl, add the chopped romaine lettuce, black beans, corn, cherry tomatoes, grilled tempeh strips, and tortilla strips. Drizzle with the dressing and toss to coat.
- Serve immediately.
- If preparing this salad for meal prep, store the ingredients separately and add the dressing right before eating. The dressing will last about 5 days if stored in air-tight container in refrigerator.
- The spiciness of a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce can vary greatly. Add in slowly to taste to be sure it is not too spicy!
- If you are oil-free you can bake the tortilla strips without oil. They will crisp up just fine!
- You can also use store-bought tortilla strips if you prefer.
- My grill pan
Keywords: Santa Fe salad, easy salad, vegan salad, summer salad, oil-free dressing, southwest dressing