During the time our kitchen has been non-functioning, or rather non-existent – as we’ve gone through this addition – we ate a lot of salads. Not the normal salads you’ve seen me post with homemade dressing and all sorts of good fixings. No, we ate a lot of the prepackaged, bagged salads that had a dressing and two or three different accompaniments. But let me tell you, to the extent they broke up the fast food and takeout we’ve also been eating, these salads tasted divine!
Since I’m craving a really good homemade salad, I thought I’d do the next best thing and post one instead.
The inspiration for this salad came from epicurious and I don’t even remember the first time I made it. I do remember making it for a Cinco de Mayo pot luck, making it with Tory, and most recently making the dressing over a week early and serving the salad at deer camp.
I love the fresh, cirtrusy and slightly – so slightly you can’t quite tell – spicy, honey lime jalapeno vinaigrette. And all of the fresh ingredients like tomato, jicama (this salad is the first reason that I EVER bought jicama), corn, avocado, radish, bell pepper. I even eat black beans on this salad – which will surprise those of you who know me well. It’s probably my absolute favorite salad – which I know I say about every salad I make but this one I’ve been coming back to for years.
Tory posted a similar salad almost two years ago – the Southwest Salad with Lime Vinaigrette – the biggest difference is the dressing since mine has jalapeno in it, and hers gets some acid from not only lime juice but red wine vinegar and also adds Mexican oregano. Both are great dressings and both salads you can switch up the ingredients based on what you want or have on hand.
Here’s what you need for my version:
You can see the dressing is already made in the ingredient picture, so let’s jump right in on how to make the dressing. Make it first and let the flavors hang out while you make the rest. You can even make it a week in advance and it’s still great – as I can attest to from this past deer season.
The dressing consists of lime juice, cilantro, jalapeno, garlic, honey and olive oil. You can also substitute agave for the honey which I’ve done on numerous occasions. When I made this, I just happened to be out of agave.
To make this dressing, I just juice, chop, mince, grate and whisk. I start by adding the liquid ingredients so I can measure them (I’ll taste later so this is just a starting point). Start by juicing limes for a ¼ cup of lime juice, this is 1-2 limes depending on how juicy they are. I always get a lot more juice with a citrus juicer. Next add an equal amount of olive oil. . Now we’ll add a couple tablespoons of honey. Finely chopped cilantro, finely minced the jalapeno – small enough that no one bites down on a large piece), grate the garlic using a microplane – same theory about biting raw garlic. And although it wasn’t pictured in my ingredients, a small pinch of salt.
I like to use a measuring cup for this dressing because the oil and citrus separate so I can measure and mix in the same container
Whisk it together with a fork or a small whisk. Taste and adjust to your liking.
Now that the dressing is ready, let’s prep the chicken. Adding grilled chicken to this salad it totally options but it’s what takes it from side salad to entrée salad for me.
Pound two chicken breasts to an even thickness using a meat mallet. Season both sides generously with a Mexican seasoning, I like Penzey’s Arizona Dreaming.
Since it’s cold out, I pan fried the chicken in a skillet with a tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat, for about 4 minutes on each side. Let it set for about 5 minutes before slicing.
I’ve mentioned before but I am in love with my meat thermometer so I can take it off at the perfect 165 degrees. Can I cook without it? Yes, but I am way more prone to letting the chicken stay on another minute or two just to be safe –but also drying It out and overcooking it. I love the Thermapen – here’s a link to their new MK4, I have the classic version and it works just fine and should save your about $20. This is definitely an investment – but it is so accurate and reliable that it’s worth having a good meat thermometer in your kitchen. You may want to check Thermoworks website as it can often be found cheaper there, but Amazon has a much better wishlist function.
I prepped all the veggies for the salad, trying to dice everything to a similar size, except the radish which I slice paper thin on a mandolin. Clockwise from the top left you have jicama, tomato, red onion, orange bell pepper, cilantro, avocado, and radish.
I like to assemble everything in a big bowl. Starting with chopped romaine.
Then add the jicama and orange bell peppers.
Red onions and black beans.
Corn and cilantro. I’ve used both fresh and frozen (thawed) corn in this salad. You can also take the extra step to roast corn on the cob on the grill if you want but I actually like it fresh and raw in this salad.
And finally avocado and feta cheese. A more Mexican cheese like cotija would work here too, but feta is easier for me to find.
Now at this point if you want you can serve it just like this with the honey lime jalapeno dressing we made earlier on the side.
Or what I like to do is toss the dressing with the salad and mix everything together. Add the dressing in stages so you don’t get too much.
Toss it together.
Serve extra dressing on the side for people who like to add more. I put the chicken onto our individual bowls.
Enjoy! This is the first salad – besides a chicken Caesar, which is pretty basic – that I ever made as an entrée salad and also at the same time realized that you could eat WAY too much even when it’s pretty much just veggies. It’s that good!
- ¼ c fresh lime juice, from 1-2 limes
- ¼ c olive oil
- 2 T honey or agave
- 2 T cilantro, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, grated
- 1 t jalapeno, finely chopped
- Pinch kosher salt
- 2 chicken breasts
- 1-2 t Penzey’s Arizona Dreaming
- 1 T olive oil
- 1 large head, or 2 hearts of romaine, chopped
- ¾ c jicama, peeled and diced
- ½ c red or orange bell pepper, diced
- ½ c red onion, diced
- ½ c black beans, rinsed and drained
- ½ c corn, fresh or frozen (thawed)
- ¼ c cilantro leaves
- 1 roma tomato, diced
- ½ avocado, diced
- ⅓ c radish, thinly sliced
- ⅓ c feta cheese, crumbled
- Whisk together all dressing ingredients. Taste and adjust any of the ingredients to taste. Set aside until ready to toss the salad.
- Pound the chicken to an even thickness. Rub both sides with Arizona Dreaming seasoning.
- Preheat a skillet over medium-high head with a tablespoon of oil. Cook the chicken for about 4 minutes on each side until it registers 165 degrees. Let rest for about 5 minutes and then slice or chop.
- In a large bowl assemble all salad ingredients from lettuce to feta cheese.
- Serve with dressing and chicken on the side. Or toss salad and dressing together and top with chicken.