in the kitchen

in the kitchen

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Southwest Chopped Chicken Salad

Time for another quick fix dinner idea. For those days you need something quick but really want to avoid take out or fast food. You know you should be eating healthy and getting more vegetables in your diet--this main dish salad is just what you need. And as always, make substitutions based on what you have on hand. Chop chop!
Southwest Chopped Chicken Salad
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (or use thighs)
1 tablespoon canola oil (or other cooking oil)
1/2 teaspoon each cumin, coriander, chili powder, salt and black pepper
1/3 cup frozen corn kernals
1/4 cup diced purple onion
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup cooked black beans, canned or home made
6 cups mixed greens or chopped Romain lettuce (or a combination of both)
1 ripe avocado
1/2 cup shredded Jack cheese (optional)
1/2 cup salsa (try these recipes or use your favorite commercial brand)
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup canola oil
Cut chicken into 1/2 strips across the grain and cut the strips in half. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Pour 1 tablespoon oil into pan and allow to heat for a 30 seconds. Add chicken to pan in a single layer. Mix together the cumin, coriander, chili powder, salt and pepper. Sprinkle 1/2 of the mixture over chicken. Continue to cook undisturbed until the edges of the chicken begin to turn opaque and the bottom is browned. Turn chicken over and sprinkle with the remaining herb and salt mixture. Continue to cook chicken until it is browned and cooked through. Remove to a cutting board. Add corn to hot pan and cook without stirring for 1 minute. Toss or stir and cook another 2 minutes. Add onion and red pepper and cook another 3 or 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Rinse black beans in a colander. When veggies are cooked, place on top of beans and allow to cool slightly while roughly chopping the greens and whisking the dressing ingredients together. Place greens in a large serving bowl. Chop chicken into smaller pieces and place on greens. Sprinkle the beans and veggies over the chicken. Peel and dice the avocado and put it over the veggies. Test dressing for seasonings, adding more lime juice, salt, pepper, cumin or coriander if desired. Spoon the dressing over the salad and serve. Pass cheese at the table if desired.

Hints: This salad can come together very quickly, about 10 minutes if you have everything assembled. I cut one chicken breast and then start heating the pan while I cut the second one. Start the browning and sprinkle on the herbs and salt. Chop and dice the pepper and onion while the chicken is browning. Turn the chicken, rinse the beans, then get the serving bowl out and begin the lettuce prep. Begin cooking the corn and whisk up the dressing. Add the peppers and onions and prep the avocado and grate the cheese. You'll be sitting down to dinner in a jiffy. Bonus: it will taste like you spent hours -- which technically you may have if you cooked your own beans, boned your own chicken or use corn you froze and salsa you made. Assembling ingredients can be super fast if you have set yourself up for it.

I like to eat out at good restaurants but I have been making a concerted effort to cook at home instead of "picking something up" at a fast food place or a deli. Sometimes that means quick cooking but I still try to limit relying on convenience items, preferring to use whole, fresh ingredients whenever I can. My health and budget have both shown improvement! Win win!

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