Complete, total, honest confession here. This is my FAVORITE salad ever. Yes, I said EVER! Southwestern salads have always been a fave of mine, but add chopped to the list and I am smitten. It’s love at first bite!
I remember my first chopped salad — do you? I have been loving salad since I was a little girl. I can’t really remember what age I was, but I remember asking my mom for a bite of that green leafy stuff that my brothers and I use to gag about. We assumed that since it was green that is was disgusting — like asparagus. YUCK!
But, I can still remember sitting in Po Folks restaurant (yes that was the name…and they even sold moon pies) when my mom gave me my first bite of that green leafy stuff drenched in buttermilk ranch dressing. WOW! My taste buds were happy fellers that day! Seriously — where had this green stuff been all my life?
Almost every kind of salad on this green earth and me are best friends. Tuna salad, pasta salad, feta cheese salad, chicken salad, tossed salad, Greek salad, Caesar salad — you name it! But, when I first tasted chopped salad, it was a memorable occasion. That special moment goes something like this:
About five years ago, I was not as refined as I am now — wink, wink! My husband took me to a pricey, romantic Italian restaurant (we had a buy one get one free entree coupon — don’t you love those?)
I remember trying to maneuver my way through the authentic Italian menu. When I got to the salads, I thought…hmmm…what is a chopped salad? So, I did the only reasonable thing a girl could do and ordered it. The first and last bite was out of this world amazing. I have been sold ever since.
Who knew that finely chopping up salad ingredients would make a world of difference? I know it does to this texture girl. Texture is almost everything to me in a dish, and chopped salads have the perfect texture of a green salad — in my humble opinion. Plus my kids love the fact that they get to eat corn chips on a salad! YES!
One of my favorite yummy factors of this recipe is the spice rub. Yep, I felt like I was almost a chef when I made the quick and easy spice rub. No taco seasoning here, just a fresh and easy rub that literally only takes a few seconds to throw together. I love watching my kid’s faces as I rub the spices on the chicken. They think it is completely gross and are convince that I am surely going to die of salmonella. At least they are learning to be hygienic cooks!
If you don’t have the simple spice rub ingredients on hand, I won’t fault you for rubbing taco seasoning on your chicken slices. It’s ok — really. But if you can, grab some spices for this recipe and by all means use those yummy ingredients over and over!
Here’s another tip about getting the chicken the perfect texture. I slice my chicken breasts into thin slices when the chicken is still partially frozen. That way, I get nice, thin slices that cook up quickly and retain lots of moisture. Plus, it’s easy to rub all the spices into smaller pieces!
Don’t forget that this yummy, Southwestern chopped salad is topped with cheese — yep, one of my favorite food groups ever. Oh, it’s not a food group? Well, it should be!
Typically you should put Southwestern dressing on top of a Southwestern salad, but I cheated and will continue to cheat. I just drizzled mine with French dressing. It’s up to your taste-buds on that one!
Ready to bite into the best salad on earth? Here’s the recipe!
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, slightly frozen and thinly sliced (about 1/4 inch thick)
- 6 cups leafy lettuce ( I do not recommend ice-burg.)
- 5 Roma tomatoes, diced
- two large yellow onions, diced
- 1 cup canned black beans, drained
- 1 cup fresh white corn
- 2 Tablespoons paprika
- 1 Tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 chicken bouillan cube, smashed
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups FRITOS® Original Corn Chips
- 2 cups shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
- your favorite salad dressing
- For the spice rub:
- 2 T. paprika
- 1 T. chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 cube chicken bouillon, crumbled or smashed
- dash of salt
- Place all spice rub ingredients in small bowl and stir together.
- Gently rub and pat spice rub into chicken.
- Set chicken aside.
- In large skillet with two tablespoons of oil, saute onions, corn and tomatoes on medium-high heat until tender.
- Add black beans, paprika, cumin, salt and chili powder to mixture. Heat for an additional two minutes while stirring.
- Remove from heat.
- In another skillet, place two tablespoons oil and saute chicken until no longer pink -- only a few minutes on each side. Do not overcook so the chicken retains its moisture.
- Chop lettuce until it is the same size as your diced veggies.
- In larger serving dish, layer lettuce on bottom, then tomato and bean mixture, followed by corn chips, cheese and then the chicken.
- Serve with your favorite dressing.
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