Light & Fresh Black Bean Taco Salad

Cilantro and lime really give this simple taco salad a delightful burst of southwestern flavor. I invented this recipe for a Christmas party at work.  It needed to be a healthy alternative to the heavy holiday foods that would be served, as well as gluten free for a coworker who might otherwise have very little to eat.

The mixture of reds and greens were so festive I decided to call it Christmas Taco Salad.  The truth is, though, it’s so fresh and light that it makes a perfect summer salad as well. No matter when I serve it I’m asked for the recipe.  With that in mind I renamed it and decided to share it with you in July.

Light and Fresh Black Bean Taco Salad with cilantro and lime |


  • 2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 6 small roma tomatoes
  • 2 large red bell peppers
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • 1 bunch cilantro (or less to taste)
  • 3 small avocados
  • 3 small limes
  • 12 cups romaine lettuce (3 hearts of romaine)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Light and Fresh Black Bean Taco Salad with cilantro and lime |


Add the black beans to a large bowl.  Chop the tomatoes, peppers and green onions and add them to the beans.  Coarsely chop the cilantro and toss together with the other ingredients until mixed well.

Pit and peel the avocado, then chop into small pieces. Toss it in a smaller bowl together with the juice of one lime.  This will coat the avocado well to avoid browning.  Toss the avocado gently into the black bean mixture along with a bit of salt and pepper (to taste).  Squeeze the juice from the remaining limes over top.  Allow to marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour, overnight if possible.

Light and Fresh Black Bean Taco Salad with cilantro and lime |

Before serving, chop or shred the romaine lettuce and toss it together with the marinated mixture. The lime and vegetable juices dress the salad lightly, so no additional salad dressings are required.  I like to serve jalapenos on the side for those who prefer their taco salads a bit spicier.

This recipe makes six large, dinner-sized servings of taco salad, or one very large salad for potlucks and parties. It’s also perfect served as a salad wrap in a whole grain tortilla!

*WARNING! Refrigerate any leftovers promptly.  The lettuce will look wilty and sad the next day, but don’t throw it away! The salad is absolutely delicious the next day despite appearances.

Light and Fresh Black Bean Taco Salad with cilantro and lime |

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