Carnita Salad with Citrus Chipotle Dressing

I’m not going to lie: for most of my life I’ve hated salad. Mostly, it’s the lettuce. It’s so limp and flavorless. I’ve never had a true BLT because the lettuce was always the first thing to be discarded from any sandwich. But earlier this year I realized the problem wasn’t all lettuce it was just iceberg lettuce. So I put aside my lettuce prejudice and tried a bunch of other kinds of lettuce only to discover that they’re not that bad. Especially once you add a bunch of veggies, cheese and dressing on top.

Since making that discovery I’ve implemented a weekly Salad Night where we eat a very large salad, usually topped with chicken. It’s a simple but filling dinner on nights when I don’t feel like making much effort and it saves us from ordering pizza like we used to. It’s been especially great while we’ve been doing the Whole30 because it’s one less meal I have plan out every week.

Carnita Salad with Citrus Chipotle Dressing

This is a tasty salad, but there’s not much to say about it because, well…it’s a salad. The point of this post is really to say: YOU HAVE TO MAKE THESE CARNITAS. Seriously. Stop what you’re doing, go to the grocery store and buy the biggest pork shoulder you can find and make these carnitas. The recipe only has a few ingredients and it’s incredibly simple to make. The pork is slow-cooked in the oven, but you could easily skip the foil packet and make it in a slow cooker instead.

I’m not posting the carnita recipe here because you should head over to Heat Oven to 350 and get the recipe. The only change I make is to add 2 teaspoons of chili powder to the spice rub. It adds a bit more spiciness, if you like that sort of thing. Once you make these carnitas, they will become a regular addition to your dinner menu. Brandon once asked me if I could make them every night and I don’t think he was joking. So now I just make as much as possible and we spend the rest of the week incorporating the leftovers into other meals like this salad.

Carnita Salad with Citrus Chipotle Dressing

This simple salad has tomatoes, red bell peppers, carrots and chunks of avocado, plus a nice big helping of cheese and carnitas on top. You can add whatever else you like, roasted corn would be a great addition, for instance. I topped the whole thing with a dressing made with fresh orange juice, lime juice, chipotle peppers and a little bit of honey. It’s tangy and spicy and a little sweet and I think it complements the spices in the carnitas and makes them even better.

Carnita Salad with Citrus Chipotle Dressing

Carnita Salad with Citrus Chipotle Dressing

from Back to the Cutting Board, dressing adapted from Raley’s

Lunch, Dinner | Servings: 2 large or 4 small salads
Prep time: 15 min | Total time: 20 min

Ingredients

Dressing

  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (about 1 large orange)
  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice (about 2 large limes)
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 to 3 tsp. honey
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 2 to 4 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Salad

  • 1 to 2 lbs. cooked pork carnitas, warm or room temperature
  • 1 head of green leaf lettuce (or lettuce of your choice), torn or chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes or 1 large tomato, cut into 8 or more slices
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 avocado, sliced into thin strips or chunks
  • 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar Cheese and/or Monterrey Jack Cheese (I used a Mexican cheese blend)

Process

  1. Prepare the dressing (this can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge for a day or two): In a food processor or blender, combine the orange and lime juices, olive oil, 1 tsp. honey, garlic and 2 chipotle peppers. Process until smooth. Taste and adjust to your liking by adding extra honey, peppers and/or a dash of salt and pepper. Chill dressing in the fridge while you prepare the salad.
  2. Divide the lettuce among each salad bowl. Top with peppers, tomatoes, carrots, avocado slices and cheese.
  3. Heat up leftover carnitas in the microwave to your desired temperature. Drain off any juice, but keep the jalapenos and red onions. Add a large helping of carnitas on top of the salad. Serve immediately with citrus chipotle dressing.

Recipe Notes:

This salad would work just as well with shredded chicken or ground beef instead of carnitas.

The dressing will keep longer (about a week) if you use garlic powder instead of raw garlic. Start with 1/8 tsp. garlic powder and then adjust if necessary.