Southwest BBQ Eggplant Salad

ImageThis salad combines fresh summer favorites like spinach, cherry tomatoes, avocado, pinto beans, and barbeque sauce with a healthified bacon made of eggplant! The dressing is a spicy yet basic vinaigrette, which can be customized based on the fresh herbs of your choice. Crushed tortilla chips on top give it a nice crunch.

While the ingredient list looks a bit daunting, this is a very easy meal to make and requires very little active preparation time. The combination of zippy flavors makes for a hearty and satisfying dinner!

Image

BBQ Eggplant Salad
inspired by The Taste Space

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Eggplant Bacon:

  • 1 medium eggplant, sliced into approximately 4″ by 1″ strips
  • 2 T maple syrup
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 2 T apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Salad:

  • 8 cups fresh baby spinach, washed and dried
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1/2 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained

Dressing:

  • juice of one lemon
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 T white wine vinegar
  • 1 T BBQ sauce
  • 1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • sea salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 T fresh chopped herbs (parsley, dill, or cilantro will all work well)

Toppings (optional):

  • additional BBQ sauce
  • hot sauce
  • crushed tortilla chips
  • chopped green onions
  • chopped fresh cilantro

1. In a large bowl, combine all eggplant bacon ingredients and let marinate for at least an hour. Toss occasionally to make sure all eggplant pieces are covered.

2. Preheat oven to 400. Remove eggplant strips from marinade with tongs and place on a nonstick sprayed cookie sheet (or two). Roast for 30 minutes or until crispy but not charred. Turn the eggplant strips over halfway through.

3. While eggplant bacon is roasting, assemble the salad by dividing the spinach into four bowls. Top with the remaining salad ingredients and toss.

4. To make the salad dressing, simply whisk together all dressing ingredients. Pour over the individual salads and toss again.

5. Add eggplant bacon to the salads, as well as toppings as desired.

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