Friday, May 17, 2013

Southwest Chicken Salad with Avocado Dressing

Here's a great salad to have for dinner in the spring or summer.  The chicken is very flavorful and really makes this salad.  We also really enjoyed the Chili Croutons and Avocado Dressing.  I used pickled jalapenos instead of fresh for this.  The recipe calls for mozzarella cheese, but I would use feta or a Mexican cheese next time for more flavor.  Also, the recipe calls for a ton of beans & corn.  We only used a fraction of what was called for, so I'll reflect that below.  I also added the juice of one lime, and some fresh cilantro to the dressing.  PS:  The recipe looks huge, but most of it is spices, and a lot repeat.  I had most of the stuff on hand... don't be scared.  
Southwest Chicken Salad with Avocado Dressing
adapted from Cooking for Keeps
2-3 servings

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken (about 2 medium chicken breasts)
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste!)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-2 romaine hearts, chopped
2-3 tablespoons pickled jalapeno slices
1/2 cup feta or similar Mexican cheese
1 large tomato, diced
3 tablespoons roughly chopped cilantro
1/4 cup frozen corn, thawed (add more if desired)
1/4 cup black beans (add more if desired)
Avocado Dressing (recipe below)
Chili Croutons (recipe below)

Buttermilk Avocado Dressing:
1 1/2 cups diced avocado (or 1 large avocado or 2 small ones)
1 1/4 cups buttermilk (to taste- I only used 1 cup)
2 tablespoons mayo
one lime, juiced
2-3 tablespoons fresh cilantro
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
pinch black pepper

Chili Croutons: (I doulbed these for us to snack on; did not double the salt)
2 1/2 cups cubed day old bread
1 1/2 tablespoons sunflower, grapeseed or canola oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon chili powder

1.  In a small bowl, combine chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, oregano, cayenne, and salt.  Sprinkle chicken evenly on both sides with seasoning.  Heat a large non-stick skillet to medium-high with a little oil.  Cook chicken until cooked through and slightly blackened, about five minutes per side.  Let sit for a few minutes, and then cut into strips.  (I bet this would also be delicious grilled.)

2.  Pile lettue onto serving platter.  Sprinkle jalapeno, cheese, tomato, cilantro, corn, and black beans over.  Top with sliced chicken, then drizzle with dressing and top with Chili croutons.

3.  Avocado Dressing:  Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor, and blend until smooth and creamy.  Add more buttermilk if dressing is too thick.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  

4.  Chili Croutons:  In a medium bowl, toss bread with oil, salt, garlic powder, and chili powder.  Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 350 for 5-8 minutes until crisp and lightly brown, turning once.    
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