Apr 29, 2010

Chipotle Chicken Taco Salad


Most people would agree that a salad is only as good as its ingredients. But to me, it's the dressing that truly makes or breaks the dish. I don't care if a salad is brimming with bacon and cheese...if it's covered in some low fat, tasteless dressing, it's not worth opening my mouth for.

Luckily, this salad rocks in both areas. Majorly.

In fact, a salad this good far outshines the name "taco" salad. After all, there's no lunch lady ice cream scoop of ground beef. No deep friend shell. No crumbled Fritos or cheddar cheese. Oh no. While those ingredients usually make other taco salads palatable, they would do nothing but disgrace the mere existence of this salad.

Bite into this alfresco-worthy meal and you'll find all kinds of fresh summertime ingredients. Juicy chicken. Avocado. Cherry tomatoes. Sliced red onion, corn and black beans. All on crisp romaine and tossed with a spicy, creamy cilantro-lime-chipotle dressing that's good enough to be a dip. And I'm talking the kind you eat with a spoon.

Like most, this salad requires a bit of prep, since practically everything in it is fresh and chopped. I started by baking six chicken breasts (I tripled the recipe) with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. When they cooled, I chopped the chicken, avocado, tomato, onion and lettuce, and drained and rinsed the black beans and corn.

Next I prepared the finger-dipping good dressing by chopping cilantro in a food processor and mixing it with sour cream, fresh lime juice, cumin, chili powder, salt and the star of the show, minced chipotle chiles. These hot suckers come canned in adobo sauce, a thick, sweet bbq-like sauce that just begs you to sneak a taste. Just be warned. Unless you have a tongue of steal, I advice against this foolishness or you will surely scream like a little girl. Even if you are a grown man named Luke.

That being said, this dressing definitely has heat. We like a little spice around here, but you may want to taste as you go and add in just enough chipotle to suit your taste buds.

I won't lie and say I didn't "taste test" this creamy, dreamy dressing quite a bit myself while preparing it. And long after it was prepared. And while it was chilling in the fridge. And as I was adding it to the salad....

...but I paused long enough to give the salad a quick toss in the dressing, then headed for our balcony with lime wedges, corn chips and a couple ice cold Coronas. But I must say, the real complement to the meal was the fresh air, sunshine and chirping birds. There's just nothing quite like eating outside. Especially when you're eating something as delicious and fresh as this.

The hubby and I scarfed this salad down so fast, you would have thought it was chock full of something fried. All that sweet onion and tomato...the creamy, spicy dressing...the avocado and juicy chicken. Oh man. To the people below our balcony, we must have looked like nothing but four blurry arms as we shoveled it in at a frightening pace. But then again, you shouldn't keep a good thing waiting.
Chipotle Chicken Taco Salad
David Bonom, Cooking Light, AUGUST 2006
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 2 1/2 cups)

1/3  cup  chopped fresh cilantro
2/3  cup  light sour cream
1  tablespoon  minced chipotle chile, canned in adobo sauce
1  teaspoon  ground cumin
1  teaspoon  chili powder
4  teaspoons  fresh lime juice
1/4  teaspoon  salt
4  cups  shredded romaine lettuce
2  cups  chopped roasted skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 2 breasts)
1  cup  cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2  cup  diced peeled avocado
1/3  cup  thinly vertically sliced red onion
1  (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1  (8 3/4-ounce) can no-salt-added whole-kernel corn, rinsed and drained

To prepare dressing, combine first 7 ingredients, stirring well.

To prepare salad, combine lettuce and remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Drizzle dressing over salad; toss gently to coat. Serve immediately.

Tip: Add a spoonful of adobo sauce for a spicier salad. Kidney or pinto beans also taste great in this dish.

Nutritional Information:
Calories: 249 (30% from fat)
Fat: 8.2g (sat 2.8g,mono 2.9g,poly 0.7g), Protein: 23.3g, Carbohydrate: 25.1g, Fiber: 7g, Cholesterol: 50mg, Iron: 2.2mg, Sodium: 650mg, Calcium: 106mg.


Cool Lassi(e) said...

All these ingredients taste incredible individually. When these come together in that salad, I bet it was like 4th of July Fireworks..flavor burst inside of the mouth. Love love love this salad.

Ms. Diva said...

OMGoodness!! That looks awesome!!!

Meg said...

That looks amazing!!!!!

InspiredDreamer said...

I love reading your descriptions of the food you make. And I can totally hear Luke screaming like a little girl. Poor Luke. :)

Have an Extraordinary Day!

Shamrocks and Shenanigans said...

one word....YUM!!

julie said...

Mmmm. You are SO speaking my language with this salad. I can't wait to make it! Hubby's out of town on Saturday with my oldest so maybe I'll treat myself and have it for dinner that night. Thank you, thank you for such an amazing looking salad!

GlowinGirl said...

I am seriously dissatisfied with my supper menu now.

I need to get to the grocery store soon for these ingredients!!

Just Breathe said...

Sounds really delicious. Thank you.

Katie said...

This looks great...I love taco salads...even the kind with ground beef :) I will have to try it soon!

Jenny Carden said...

Prettiest avocado picture ever. Oh, and I'm totally putting all of this on my next grocery list. Thanks!

theUngourmet said...

I'm with you all the way on the zippy dressing! We eat this sort of salad a lot. I'd love the try this recipe! Yum!

teresa said...

i LOVE salads like this. i could eat a salad like this every day and be happy!

A Feast for the Eyes said...

I am so glad that you reminded me of this salad! I made this a couple year ago, and loved the dressing. This will be perfect for those warm summer nights that should be here in a few weeks. Great job and thanks!

grace said...

excellent. that creamy, flavorful dressing definitely steals the show.
by the by, did your lunchlady give extra-large scoopage to the kids she liked? mine did. :)

Megan (Best of Fates) said...

I completely agree about salad dressing - and I love your tagline!

Amy said...

Okay, I am hooked! You've got a fantastic blog here- great content, and the food... oh my.

And, I love pie.

That's also the most fabulous looking avocado I have ever seen.

And the best part, 6 months of back posts I can catch up on!

Amanda said...

I am so glad you stopped by my blog, otherwise who knows when I would finally have found you here :) This salad looks amazing and I am stumbling it! Love the concept of your blog too!

tasteofbeirut said...

This salad is exactly what I love! All fresh and a bit of heat! Perfection.

Ma What's 4 dinner said...

Oh yum yum yum!!! Your pics are getting more and more beautiful too. I wish I had time to take nice pics. I'm usually just trying to get in one shot before 8 grubby dirty boy/man hands arrive to shove food into their mouths!

Thanks for stopping by and making my SITS day such a wonderful experience. Your time, your words, and your bloggie friendship mean the world to me.

Lots of yummy love,
Alex aka Ma, What's For Dinner

Anonymous said...

Cinco de Mayo! Made this for the office today in celebration of Cinco de Mayo. Everyone loved it and said it was a rainbow of flavor and color. Keep up Grand Lil!

Mellisa Rock said...

This is why I love blogging - Thanks so much for stopping by my blog so that I could find yours! Cooking Light is the only magazine that I actually pay for - I am in love with all of the healthy recipes and I too never really learned to cook - I taught myself by watching the food network and through trial and error...your newest follower and made sure to sign up for e-mail subscription. :) Have a great weekend!

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