By Cheryl Forberg, RD
Even though I have lived in California for most of my life, I cannot seem to let go of my Midwestern roots. Growing up in Minnesota, the winters are cold, and fall comes early. Since I moved to California, I have especially enjoyed the month of September, because it means I have one completely extra month of summer.
For me, September is an extra month of ideal weather, water sports and outdoor activities, longer days, less stress and my favorite, summer eating. Dining outdoors, cold drinks, barbecues, garden fresh ingredients and less time in the kitchen – what is not to love?
Today, I am sharing my favorite summer salad recipe which can be enjoyed year-round. I seem to enjoy it more in the summer though, when produce is at its peak.
BBQ Chicken Salad with Chili Ranch Dressing
I can never get enough barbecue sauce. This crispy, crunchy salad is one of my favorite ways to enjoy it.
Makes 4 servings
For the chicken:
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast (or thighs) cut in 1-inch cubes*
¾ cup barbecue sauce, divided
1 tsp. grapeseed or olive oil
For tortilla strips:
2 small corn tortillas
For the salad:
6 cups shredded Romaine lettuce
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
¼ cup red onion, julienne
¼ cup jicama, julienne
¼ cup shredded cheddar or pepper jack cheese
2 TBS. finely chopped fresh cilantro
½ cup Chili Ranch Dressing (below)
Marinate the chicken cubes in ½ cup of the barbecue sauce, cover and refrigerate for at least one hour. In a medium nonstick pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Sauté the chicken in the pan for about 4 minutes, or until done, stirring regularly so the sauce doesn’t burn. Place chicken in a small bowl and set aside to cool.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Stack the tortillas and cut in quarters with a knife or pizza cutter. Cut quarters into thin strips. Place in a single layer on a nonstick baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until strips are just starting to turn light brown. Strips will crispen as they cool. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the lettuce, tomato, onion, jicama, cheese and cilantro. Add dressing and toss well. Divide the salad between four plates. Divide the chicken between the 4 plates. Drizzle with remaining ¼ cup barbecue sauce and top with tortilla strips. Pass extra Chili Ranch Dressing, if desired.
Chili Ranch Dressing
Though this dressing was created for the BBQ Chicken Salad, it is fantastic on any salad, or as a condiment with grilled fish or chicken.
Makes 1 cup, or eight 2 tablespoon servings
½ cup plain Greek-style yogurt (or buttermilk)
½ cup mayonnaise
1 TBS. minced onion
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. lime juice
1 tsp. garlic
1 tsp. chipotle purée or your favorite hot sauce
½ tsp. chili powder
1 ½ tsps. minced fresh basil or ½ tsp. dried basil
1 ½ tsps. fresh minced dill or ½ tsp. dried dill
¼ tsp. fresh ground black pepper
Combine the dressing ingredients in jar of blender or bowl of a food processor. Blend or process until smooth. Refrigerate. Keeps in refrigerator for about 1 week.