Haystacks, Traditional Salad From Iowa


Iowa has rolling farmlands marked by the Mississippi River and Missouri river on both ends. However, every four years, it wakes up from its bucolic slumber as the make-or-break state for the presidential hopefuls. However, beyond the picture-perfect rural towns and throes of the elections, it has a food scene that is just as explosive and soulful. They have breakfast pizzas, taco pizza, Scotcharoos, and Ham Balls. Need I say more? The Haystack salad is one such member of traditional recipes here. 

The starchy base, juicy vegetables, and flavorful sauces are hard to get wrong. 

Think of it as a deconstructed tostada. 

Ingredients For Haystacks

  • 8 corn tortillas, halved, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 cans (15 oz.) pinto beans, rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups jarred mild tomato salsa
  • 1/2 head romaine lettuce shredded (about 4 cups)
  • 1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese (about 4 oz.)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup black olives, sliced

Method Of Haystacks

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, toss the tortilla strips with the extra virgin olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on 2 rimmed baking sheets and bake, switching and rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until crisp, 8 to 10 minutes; let cool.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine the beans and 1 cup salsa; bring to a simmer over high heat. Lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring, until thickened, about 5 minutes.

Divide the lettuce among 4 plates and top with the bean mixture, cheese, tortilla strips, sour cream, olives, and remaining 1/2 cup salsa.

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