Andrew and Christy Pearce’s Freestyle Family Salad

The joy of this dish is its flexibility: You can incorporate whatever ingredients you want. The recipe can easily be adjusted for 2 to 8 people. Christy explains, “You can’t go wrong! The salad will taste great because you’ve added what you and your family like.”
By / Photography By Brent Harrewyn | November 17, 2015


Pour salsa into a saucepan and add the beans. Heat until just boiling, reduce heat and keep warm on stove while you assemble the salad. In a large wooden salad bowl, add the shredded lettuce. Then layer in the crushed tortilla chips, meat (if using), grated cheese, along with any desired add-ins. Pour the hot salsa-bean mix over the top of the salad. Let sit briefly until the cheese melts. Mix all together with tongs or hands. Serve and enjoy while still hot.

Yield: 4-6 servings


Pearce Family Marinade and Salad Dressing

This simple marinade (handed down from Andrew’s great-grandmother) works well for chicken, pork and grilled veggies. Great on salads, too!

½ cup olive oil
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon each fresh ground salt and pepper

Combine all the ingredients into a glass jar and shake. Andrew recommends using a Mason jar that already has the measurements on the side for one-stop measuring, blending, pouring and storing!



  • 2 jars Vermont salsa
  • 4 cups cooked beans, either pinto or black, rinsed; or, two 15-ounce cans of beans rinsed
  • 1 head lettuce (iceberg or romaine),chopped or shredded
  • ½ of an 11-ounce bag of tortilla chips, crushed (put chips into a ziplock bag and crush with your hands) (The Pearces admit they prefer Doritos Nacho Cheese flavor)
  • 2 cups thinly sliced or diced grilled or roasted chicken, pork or crumbled ground beef (optional) **See marinade recipe below
  • 1½ cups grated cheddar cheese
  • Optional add-ins: sliced black olives, corn kernels, scallions
  • Accompaniment: corn muffins
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