Sunday, March 22, 2009

Southwest chicken salad with cilantro-lime dressing

We keep getting asked for the recipe for the Southwest chicken salad we make and the yummy cilantro-lime dressing.

First off, I have to give my Dad the credit for "inventing" this salad. When he was on a business trip last year he ordered this salad at the hotel restaurant and he really liked it. So, being my Dad, he went back the next 3 nights and ordered the exact same thing and took notes on what was in it. With that being said there is no EXACT recipe, I have just played with it until the amounts seemed right for our taste. You can't mess it up! When my Dad makes it, he makes it different each time, so it is always an adventure. (If you know my Dad you know this to be true with everything he does).

OK, so this is to make a large salad. Think enough to feed 8 if it was the main dish. You should cut it in 1/2 if it is just for a small family dinner.

1 1/2 -2 large heads of green leaf or romaine lettuce. (I put this in last, enough to fill up a large bowl almost to the top)
3 cans black beans rinsed.
3 cobs of raw white corn - just cut the kernels off the cob with a knife.
1 small red onion chopped
1 bunch of cilantro chopped
4 grilled chicken breasts
1 tub of shredded Parmesan cheese
2 tomatoes diced
Tortilla Chips

Chop the lettuce, chicken, cilantro, onions and tomatoes, and put everything (except chips) together in a large bowl and toss. You can crunch the chips and add them just before serving, or even better you can have people add their own chips. We have also added avocado, but with that I would toss it in at the very end so things don't get mushy. We've also added 1 can of red kidney beans and that is good. (Sometimes I will use the frozen grilled chicken strips from Costco, or you could just shred pieces off of a rotisserie chicken - this makes it one step easier).

Now for the dressing: (This is a double batch, which I make for the salad above, again you can/should 1/2 it)
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger root
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 cup packed cilantro leaves
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Place the jalapeno pepper, garlic clove, and ginger into a food processor or blender; pulse until the jalapeno and garlic are finely chopped. Pour in the lime juice, honey, balsamic vinegar, and salt, add the cilantro leaves; pulse a few times to blend. Turn the food processor or blender on, and slowly drizzle in the olive oil until incorporated into the dressing. Season to taste with salt before serving. I leave the dressing on the side so people can add their own.

If you want it to have more of a vinaigrette taste you can just add more vinegar. (Found that out on accident)

If you have any questions please feel free to ask - and please let me know how yours turns out!

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