Southwest Chicken Salad & Quesadillas

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I’ve spent most of my life as someone who did not like salads. At one point, the only way I could stomach the thought of eating lettuce was atop a burger or in a burrito. But eating salad, I felt, was a duty I owed to my body, even if I did not enjoy it.  I think the turning point was the first time I had a Chipotle salad. If I had to eat a salad every single day for the rest of my life, it would be a Chipotle salad! Of course I cannot do that, so I set about making my own yummy salad with a southwestern flavor.

My Southwest Chicken Salad is filling and bursting with flavor. It is best paired with a mexi-ranch dressing, jalapeno ranch dressing or my tangy Avocado-Jalapeno Ranch Dressing. Hubby and the kiddos each pointed out how good the Avocado-Jalapeno ranch dressing was, and let me tell you it takes some serious work to get a compliment from them!  This is one salad I don’t mind eating – not a Chipotle salad, but very good in its own right.

There is a bit of preparation involved, so I recommend you season the chicken first, then chop the salad, make the dressing, grill/cook the chicken and finish with making the quesadillas. The quesadillas take no time at all and the chicken can cool while you make them, but you will want the salad and dressing ready to mix when everything else is done.

Finally, some salad tips for those of you that have also struggled to enjoy salads – these are the cornerstone of making salad more enjoyable:

  •  Nothing is worse that wilted lettuce. If it isn’t crisp, I don’t like it going into my mouth.  To keep my lettuce fresh and crisp and lasting longer, I keep a single paper towel in the bag that holds my lettuce.  Toss out any leaves that are soft and wilted!
  • Next to wilted lettuce, soggy, wet lettuce is the second worse thing.  If you don’t have a salad spinner, invest in one now.  It will make salads much more desirable.  Dressing adheres much better to dry leaves.  (And no, not washing the lettuce isn’t an option!)
  • Take the time to chop the lettuce into bite sized pieces.  One thing I have always hated about salads, is bringing the fork to my mouth with a lettuce leaf the size of my face and having to figure out how to proceed.  Do I shove the whole thing in?   Do I cut it?  Of course you can slice it with a dinner knife on your plate, but the cuts are more crisp and less hasty if you chop the lettuce prior to mixing the salad.
  • Mix the salad and the dressing together before plating (but only just before plating).  A good salad has the dressing distributed equally among the leaves and vegetables prior to being put on the plate.  Trying to distribute dressing into the salad at the table on the plate is sloppy.  It leaves you with some leaves that have dressing and some that do not, making each bite either having too much dressing and others not enough.
  • Place the toppings on after the salad and dressing are mixed. This keeps certain flavors from disappearing and crisp items like croutons stay crisp.
  • Make your own dressing.  A homemade dressing will taste a hundred times better than most processed dressings.  If you must buy one, look in the produce section for the refrigerated dressings.  They taste fresher.  Avoid the dressings with MSG and high fructose corn syrup, because, well, they just taste like MSG and high fructose corn syrup.  It’s better to simply dress the salad with oil, adding vinegar and salt and pepper as desired, than to use products with those ingredients.
  • Splurge on flavor. A plain salad with nothing but lettuce and other vegetables with a little dressing is boring.  If you have always had a difficult time enjoying eating salad, making plain salads will not make it easier.  Throwing in flavor truly makes a salad much more enjoyable – corn, peas, bacon, croutons, avocado, nuts, fruit, cheese, beans, etc.

  • The owner of www.myfreshnewlife.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to www.amazon.com.

    I may earn a small commission for my link to any products or services from this website. Your purchase helps support my work in maintaining this website. Thank you for your support!

    Print Recipe
    Southwest Chicken Salad with Quesadillas
    Southwest Chicken Salad
    Course Main Dish, Salad
    Cuisine Lowish carb
    Prep Time 30 minutes
    Cook Time 10 minutes
    Servings
    Ingredients
    Southwest Chicken
    Quesadillas
    Salad
    Avocado Jalapeno Ranch Dressing
    Course Main Dish, Salad
    Cuisine Lowish carb
    Prep Time 30 minutes
    Cook Time 10 minutes
    Servings
    Ingredients
    Southwest Chicken
    Quesadillas
    Salad
    Avocado Jalapeno Ranch Dressing
    Southwest Chicken Salad
    Instructions
    Southwest Chicken
    1. Pound chicken breast to no more than 3/4 inch thick.
    2. Mix all spices together.
    3. If using a Foreman or similar electric grill, rub chicken breast with oil.
    4. Rub spices into chicken breast and heat pan on medium high, or Foreman grill.
    5. If using a pan, add oil to the heated pan.
    6. Place chicken onto Foreman grill and close. If using a pan, add chicken to pan and cook until browned on one side. Once browned, flip to brown the other side. Use a meat thermometer to determine whether the chicken is done (a safe temperature is 165 degrees Fahrenheit or 75 degrees Celsius). The chicken will take much less time to cook on the Foreman grill than in a pan.
    7. Remove cooked chicken to a plate to let cool slightly, prepare quesadillas.
    8. Chop chicken into bite sized pieces.
    Salad
    1. Rinse Romaine and loose leaf lettuce.
    2. Chop lettuces and spin in a salad spinner to remove excess moisture. This is a key step in making a great salad!
    3. Mix lettuce, shredded carrots, sliced bell peppers, green onions, corn and black beans into a large bowl.
    4. When ready to serve, mix individual portions of salad with just enough dressing to coat and serve onto plate or bowl.
    5. Top with chopped Chicken.
    6. Top with crispy tortilla strips, crispy bacon, shredded cheese, avocado or salsa.
    Avocado Jalapeno Ranch Dressing
    1. Add all ingredients to a food processor and pulse process until blended.
    2. If too thick, add a tablespoon of buttermilk at a time until thin enough to pour.
    Recipe Notes



    The owner of www.myfreshnewlife.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to www.amazon.com.

    I may earn a small commission for my link to any products or services from this website. Your purchase helps support my work in maintaining this website. Thank you for your support!

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