Chicken Taco Salad with Homemade Dressing

Chicken Taco Salad with Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing: Yum!

’s hard to develop a salad that is satisfying as a stand-alone dinner. However, it’s not impossible and I think I succeeded with this taco salad I made a few weeks ago. It was delicious that night and provided plenty of leftovers for lunches to come! Plus, the light, spicy and creamy cilantro lime dressing I developed for this salad is perfect for summer…It not only satisfied me for dinner, but also satisfied my husband, a tough feat to accomplish!As I’ve been harping on in the past couple of posts, it’s hot in Houston, really hot…so hot that I really don’t crave many warm dishes at home anymore (but I still make them on occassion). So, I’ve been shifting my focus a little to develop recipes that make great leftovers that are out of the realm of bakes and casseroles. This salad was the success I had in bulk cold food preparation (made a week before my Mediterranean Bulgar Wheat Salad). The prep requires a little bit of heat being generated to boil and shred the chicken, but it’s worth it and only requires a few minutes over the stove…so, you can relax and stay cool in the blistering heat!

Ingredients:

Salad:

  • 2 cups shredded chicken breast (instructions to follow)
  • 2 dried chili peppers (your choice of variety based on heat)
  • 1 can Black Beans, rinsed (I use low sodium)
  • 0.75 cups Frozen Corn (heated per instructions on bag) or Fresh Corn
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper (diced)
  • 1 bag Hearts of Romaine Salad Mix (alternatively you may chop your own Romaine, we are starting to do this due to our recent great investment in a salad spinner)
  • Couple of handfuls of cherub or grape tomatoes
  • 1 avocado, diced (optional)

Dressing:

  • 0.5 cups Greek Yogurt (I use 0% Fage, you can substitue a yogurt with fat if you want it creamier)
  • 1 Jalapeno pepper, roughly chopped
  • ~0.5 cups Cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 2 Garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 oz fresh lime juice (I use a jigger to measure)
  • 1 tsp Chiplote in Adobo sauce (more or less to taste)

You’ll get the chicken going first, so you can shred it and let it cool down if you want your salad to be a cold salad. Prepare dried chilis by desteming and removing the seeds within. Place into a medium sized pot with chicken breasts (I used 3 so I could have leftover shredded chicken). Cover with water and bring to a boil and simmer until chicken breasts are done (~15-20 minutes).

Take chicken breasts out of the simmering water and let sit for a minute to cool down before shredding with either forks or your hands (I just use my hands, more control that way). You can reserve the chili broth for another dish (maybe Chicken Tortilla Soup?) by letting it cool and blending the liquid and either refridgerating (if using quickly in the next couple of days) or freezing it in a plastic bag.

I really think this method of making shredded chicken is awesome! It gives the chicken a very subtle hint of chili flavoring that isn’t too intense, but it’s definitely there. Not required by any means, but it is a quite cheap addition that is worth the extra pennies!

While the chicken is boiling, it’s a good time to start on your dressing so the flavors can meld a bit before you use it. Prepare all of the ingredients and place into a small food processor. Blend well and place into resealable container. Put aside in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, preferably a couple of hours. The jalapeno really gives this dressing a good bit of dimension such that it takes any edge off of using a tart yogurt.

The beauty of this is that these two steps can be done either early in the day when it isn’t quite as warm outside, or the night before!

When you are ready to assemble your salad, prepare all of the salad ingredients (except avocado if it’s nice and ripe) of the salad and place into a (very) large bowl. Toss around to make sure they are evenly distributed in the salad mixture.  Top with freshly diced avocado and a few tablespoons of the creamy cilantro dressing.

There you have it, a yummy, healthy and most importantly, cold, meal for a hot summer day!

This recipe made 3 large portions (main dish sized), but can obviously be modified to make more or less to your needs.

Nutrition (1/3 of salad recipe):

  • 333 cal
  • 8 g fat
  • 41 g carb
  • 11 g fiber
  • 36 (?) g protein (think this make be off…)

Dressing (1/3 recipe, you don’t use all of this on one salad, not nearly…):

  • 30 cal
  • 0 g fat
  • 3 g carb
  • 4 g protein (gotta love Greek yogurt!)

Hope you enjoy this dish as much as we did!