Monday, September 10, 2012

Southwest Salad

Perfect Pairing:  Makeshift salad spinner

I have been making this family favorite for years, most likely never the exact same way twice.  It is one of my favorite summer lunches for a crowd.
You can add or subtract ingredients based on what you have on hand.  Replace the cheddar cheese with pepper jack or Monterey jack, fresh/frozen/canned corn all work, red onion instead of green onions, squeeze of fresh lime juice on top, etc.  If you really want to get fancy you can grill the green onions, which is something I love to do.  Just coat them with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Just a few minutes on the grill and it completely changes the flavor.  I first had them like this in Mexico and was hooked.
For this version of the salad I marinated the chicken in taco sauce, which is easy and tasty, but you could also use taco seasoning as a dry rub. 
I am not a fan of fat free dressings. They just taste like chemicals to me.  In fact, I rarely buy store-bought dressings.  I prefer to make my own with olive oil, Dijon, honey, and assorted vinegars.  That kind of dressing did not work for this salad so I came up with something different.  I mix salsa with regular or light ranch dressing.  I use a ratio of 3 to 1, in favor of salsa.  This keeps the calories and fat way down and adds a nice spicy kick.
The Perfect Pairing for this salad is a makeshift salad spinner.   I have little to no patience when it comes to drying produce after washing it.  I know it is a simple thing but, my gosh, I dislike it.  I put that in the same category as putting away my laundry, picking up/sorting my mail, and filing papers at work.  All extremely easy tasks but I have an aversion.  Another thing I dislike is soggy salads, so this can cause a dilemma if I don’t feel like towel drying my freshly washed lettuce.  Enter the makeshift salad spinner! 
 That is my cousin’s husband, Mark, using a clean pillow case (keyword, clean) to dry lettuce.  Just shake off any excess water from freshly washed lettuce and toss into the pillow case.  Take it outside and spin the heck out of it.  Voila!  Dry lettuce and, let’s face it, a pretty good time.

Southwest Salad
Lindsay at Perfecting the Pairing

·         1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
·         1 bottle of taco sauce
·         4 heads of Romaine lettuce, chopped
·         2 cups of corn
·         1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
·         1 red bell pepper, chopped
·         1 bunch green onions, chopped
·         1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
·         2 avocados, diced
·         1 cup chunky salsa
·         ¼ cup ranch dressing
·         Cilantro
·         Tortilla chips
Marinate the chicken breasts in the taco sauce for at least 2 hours.  Grill the chicken breasts until they are cooked through.  Allow to rest for at least 10 minutes and slice into strips.
In a large bowl combine the chopped romaine lettuce, corn, beans, pepper, green onions, and shredded cheese.  Toss until evenly distributed. 
In a medium bowl combine the salsa and ranch dressing.
Top each salad with grilled chicken, diced avocado, dressing, chopped cilantro, and crushed tortilla chips. 


  1. What a neat trick for getting the water out of lettuce! And probably a nice little workout, too! Your salad looks delicious and thanks for the salad spinner trick! :)


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