Meatless Monday–Spinach Salad with Hominy Croutons and Chipotle-Balsamic Dressing

I certainly eat my fair share of salads during the very hot summer months.  That can sometimes get tedious, so I try to mix things up as much as I can.  One of the easiest ways to vary my salads is through homemade dressings and flavorful and seasonal toppings. 

This delicious salad was part of the menu at my Foodbuzz 24×24 party I called “Some Like it Hot”.  The dressing, with it’s chipotle chile, had a slight kick of heat which was emphasized by the balsamic.  The creamy summer avocado, bright red onion, and buttery cotija cheese made for a beautiful blend of flavors.  But what really took this salad to a new level was the homemade hominy croutons.  They took a little forethought, but they were so worth it.  I ended up not frying all the croutons, but I wish I had because I had such a hard time not snacking on them before the party!

mexican spinach salad

Spinach Salad with Hominy Croutons and Chipotle-Balsamic Dressing

croutons from Bobby Flay, Mesa Grill Cookbook

dressing adapted from Rick Bayless, Mexican Everyday


For croutons:

2 c. plus 2 TBSP canola oil

1 small Spanish onion

2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced

4 c. cold water

1 c. dry white wine

1 c. white or yellow cornmeal

salt and pepper, to taste

For dressing:

1/2 c. olive oil, vegetable oil, or mixture of the two

1/2 c. balsamic vinegar

1-2 canned chipotles in adobo

1 tsp. adobo sauce (chipotle canning sauce)

1 tsp. dried oregano, preferably Mexican

1-2 tsp. honey

salt, to taste

For salad:


avocado, cut into 1-inch cubes

thinly sliced red onion

cotija cheese, crumbled

fresh black pepper


1.  To make the croutons, line a 12×17-inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and spray lightly with cooking spray.  (I did not use parchment.  Instead, I generously sprayed the baking sheet.)

2.  Heat 2 TBSP oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and cook until soft, 3-4 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook one minute more, then add the wine and cook until reduced by half, another 3-4 minutes.

3.  Stir in the water and bring to a boil.  Slowly whisk in the cornmeal and continue whisking until slightly thickened, 2-3 minutes.  Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking, whisking occasionally, until fully thickened, 10-12 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper. 

4.  Spread the mixture onto the prepared pan, cover tightly, and place in the refrigerator until firm, between two and 24 hours.

5.  To cook the croutons, pour the two cups of oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until it reaches 360 degrees F on a deep-frying thermometer.  Meanwhile, remove polenta from refrigerator and cut into one-inch squares.  Once oil reaches the desired temperature, fry the croutons, in small batches, until golden brown, about two minutes.  Drain on a plate lined with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.

6.  To make the dressing, combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth.  Season with salt, to taste.  Keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to one week.

7.  To create the salad, use desired amount of spinach, avocado, onion, and cotija.  Dress the salad and top with croutons.

one year ago: chilled avocado soup

two years ago: easy weeknight chicken stir fry

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  1. Krystal
    June 27, 2011 / 5:53 pm

    Yum, this sounds like a tasty and wonderful salad!! Some of my favorite things!!

  2. That Girl
    June 28, 2011 / 5:05 am

    I had cornbread croutons today on my salad. Funny how the little things can add so much.

  3. Jacqueline
    June 28, 2011 / 4:07 pm

    Yum! I'm loving your meatless mondays!

  4. Emily Malloy
    June 28, 2011 / 4:55 pm

    This looks delicious!

  5. Erin
    June 28, 2011 / 8:17 pm

    I love this salad! It sounds amazing! The dressing sound spicy yet perfect! Great job!

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