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This Southwest salad is a delicious plant based dinner recipe, a mix of sweet potatoes, veggies, and rice drizzled with a green chile vinaigrette.

Southwest Salad | Southwest salad dressing

I’m a cancer survivor. My type of cancer, CML (chronic myelogenous leukemia), is treatable by a pill. This pill was invented about ten years before I was diagnosed, and it’s a true miracle drug. This pill not only saved my life, but made healing from cancer an invisible process with no major side effects. A miracle, indeed. Cancer has been making the rounds in my circle lately. These days, it’s almost impossible to find someone whose community has not been shaken by cancer. It’s easy to hate. I hate that my friend never to watch his 4-month old twins graduate college or walk them down the aisle. But while it’s a deadly, terrible disease, cancer has also connected me to phenomenal people. 

Southwest salad | Southwest vinaigrette

The inspiration for this Southwest salad

This Southwest salad recipe is inspired by a relationship formed through CML. I recently connected with Erin, a Cytogenetic Technologist in Texas who loves to cook. Funny enough, Erin spends most of her day at a microscope analyzing DNA of cancer patients. It just so happens that CML is one of the main cancers she encountered at a previous lab. When she heard me talking about CML on our podcast, her ears perked. She told me, via email, that hearing me talk put a face to the slides that she looks at through the microscope every day. Though her job is monotonous, my story made her remember that it’s an important job, even if she doesn’t see the people she helps.

So, thank you—to those of you toiling away silently on cancer research, reading slides in monotony, making diagnoses, drawing blood, donating blood, serving children, and walking alongside adults. To any of you who’ve had a hand in the fight against cancer: your work matters, and it affects people all over the world—many whose stories didn’t have to end because you do what you do. 

Erin and I got to talking and she asked me about where Alex and I get inspiration for our recipes. I said here and there, the farmer’s market, food blogs, magazines, cookbooks, and dishes we eat at restaurants. We look for inspiration everywhere, really, keeping an eye towards healthy dinner ideas and recently vegan recipes. She told me about a salad she recreated based on one from a local grocery, a Southwest salad bowl featuring greens, roasted corn, sweet potatoes, pepitas, and a hatch chile dressing. And in that brief exchange, inspiration hit. I asked whether we could recreate our own version of the recipe to share, and she graciously agreed.

Recently, I received another email from Erin; she told me that her mother passed from cancer years ago. At the time, she felt there could never be one good thing that came from that experience. But since then, she’s been able to connect with and walk alongside people going through grief and loss. And though she’d give anything for another day with her mom, she’s grateful she can now be there for others. In the same way, incredible people were there for me, and I see them rallying around the others in my community who need it. So, thank you—to those of you walking alongside people affected by disease and grief and loss in any way: you are a lifeline and give us hope. And though cancer sucks, it also can bring us together in beautiful ways.

How to make this Southwest salad

A few items of note about this Southwest salad recipe:

  • It’s a healthy dinner idea and a vegan recipe; it’s a main dish that’s filling and uses colorful seasonal produce. We used tomatoes and corn from our local farmer’s market.
  • Sweet potatoes were part of the inspiration Southwest salad. Though they aren’t exactly summer produce, we like that they’re filling and add a contrasting sweetness. You can omit the sweet potato if you prefer.
  • We added spiced rice to make the bowl more filling. If you use short grain white rice, it takes only about 15 minutes to make while the veggies are roasting.
  • We used canned mild green chiles instead of hatch chiles in the vinaigrette, since they’re more easily accessible in Indiana.

Looking for healthy dinner ideas? 

Outside of this Southwest salad, here are a few of our favorite healthy dinner ideas:

Did you make this recipe?

If you make our Southwest salad with green chile vinaigrette recipe, we’d love to hear how it turned out. Leave a comment below or share a picture on Instagram and mention @acouplecooks.

This recipe is…

This Southwest salad recipe is vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, plant-based, dairy-free, and refined sugar free.

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Southwestern Bowl with Green Chile Vinaigrette | A Couple Cooks

Southwest Salad

  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4 (dressing makes leftovers) 1x


This Southwest salad is a delicious plant based dinner recipe, a mix of sweet potatoes, veggies, and rice drizzled with a green chile vinaigrette.



For the rice

  • 2 cups short grain rice, white or brown
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

For the roasted vegetables

  • 2 large sweet potatoes (1 1/2 pounds)
  • ¾ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil, plus additional for drizzling
  • 2 to 3 ears corn, enough for about 2 cups* (if desired, use frozen corn and thaw)

For the dressing (makes more than enough for salads)

  • 4 ounce can diced mild green chiles
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce (or tamari or coconut aminos)
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 12 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper

For the salad

  • 12 cups mixed greens
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 small red onion
  • ¼ cup roasted and salted pepitas


  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
  2. Make the rice: Follow the package instructions or use our Instant Pot rice method. Then stir in the olive oil, cumin, chili powder, and kosher salt.
  3. Meanwhile, make the roasted vegetables: Chop the sweet potatoes into bite-sized pieces. Mix with garlic powder, salt and olive oil. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until tender.
  4. Shuck the corn cobs and cut off corn kernels. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet in a single layer, and roast in the same oven for about 5 minutes until tender and bright yellow.
  5. Make the dressing: Thoroughly drain the green chilies. Using an immersion blender or blender, blend the chilies, soy sauce, and sherry vinegar. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and blend. Then gradually add another 2 tablespoons olive oil at a time and blend, until a creamy emulsion forms. (Makes more than enough for the bowls; leftovers keep in the refrigerator; warm to room temperature prior to serving.)
  6. Serve: Slice the tomatoes and dice the red onion. Sprinkle the tomatoes with a bit of kosher salt. To serve, place the greens in bowls, then top with rice, roasted sweet potatoes and corn, tomatoes, red onion, and pepitas. Serve the dressing on the side; store leftover dressing refrigerated.
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Roasted
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Southwest Salad, Southwest Salad Dressing, Salad Recipes, Bowl Meal Recipes, Vegetarian Dinner Recipes, Vegan Dinner Recipes

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. This is such a heartfelt post Sonja. Thanks for always being open to sharing not only your story but also examples of true human connection. When we lived in Dallas for 1 1/2 years I learned about the “hatch chili season”. Central Market and Whole Foods go all out for it this time of year. It’s a New Mexico/Texas thing for sure! ;-) So it was fun to see you mention it here. Love everything about this Southwestern bowl!

  2. You guys have the biggest hearts. I, too, lost a few family members and friends to cancer. This resinates with me in so many levels. My thoughts and prayers go to all who is effected.
    Much love and hugs.
    PS: I am SOOOO digging this salad.

    1. I am so sorry for your losses, Aysegul. It is astounding how many families have been affected by this disease. Sending hugs your way–and thanks for the kind words on the salad.

  3. This looks and sounds delicious! I have a salad every day for lunch, so I’m definitely going to try this one. Thank you for reminding me that good things can come from cancer. Sometimes it is sooo hard to see that as we watch loved ones struggle and suffer. I honestly can’t think of anything good that came from my dad’s cancer…I now know what Multiple Myeloma is, but I think I could’ve lived without that…so I’ll have to ponder that one for a while.

    1. I am so, so sorry to hear about your dad. I agree, it’s hard to find the good that comes from suffering and loss. I guess the good is that those of us left behind can come alongside others in the same situation–though at the same time, it doesn’t make the loss or suffering better or good or positive. Sending so much love your way!