This salad is known in our house as “the salad that Corban eats” or “the salad that makes me forget I can’t eat dairy” or “what should we have for dinner, how about the salad? salad”.
I always forget about salad. Vegetables and I had a tumultuous relationship until I was 20. My experience up until that point included canned corn and green beans, both of which taste like water and salt. I’d really rather just have water and salt, thanks. The only “vegetable” I really liked was the tomato which, it turns out, is not a vegetable.
At some point in college, I made it a goal to like vegetables. It was probably because I was getting married and wanted to lose weight, but hey, whatever gets ya there. The summer that we got married I discovered fresh garden vegetables, and it was then that I decided, wait! These taste like…something! I have been cultivating (didn’t even do that on purpose) a love of fresh, delicious, and cute (trust me, seedlings are way cute) vegetables ever since. I’m pretty sure Caleb thought I was nuts when I kept worrying about my vegetable babies growing in the basement last spring. I probably was.
I suppose for clarity’s sake, I will call this chicken tortilla salad. It helps me remember that salad is a good idea.
Chicken Tortilla Salad
I love this salad because I don’t miss the cheese at all. If you can’t have dairy, emulsified salad dressing and avocados are your friend. Both are reminiscent of the creamy texture of dairy that that we miss so much. It serves two adults and a hungry 2 year old.
4 cups fresh salad greens, we’ve used them all
1/2 red pepper, thinly sliced
1 (or 12…we love avocados) avocado, pitted and cubed
1 cup corn (best cut fresh from the cob, frozen would work too…thawed, of course)
Cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup black beans (cooked or canned), drained and rinse
3 green onions, white and green parts
1-2 grilled chicken breasts, cut into strips
Tortilla Chips, for “chomping on top” in Corbanspeak.
(slightly adapted from this recipe)
1 jalapeño pepper, seed and roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup lime juice
1/3 cup honey
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup packed cilantro leaves
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Pulse jalapeño and garlic in a food processor until finely minced. Add lime juice, honey, balsamic, salt, and cilantro and pulse until combined. Turn on food processor and slowly stream in oil until emulsified, which is a happy word that describes the chemical process in which oil and vinegar mix together and get all thick and creamy.
Toss the dressing and salad ingredients together. You may not need all of the dressing – start with less and add more if you think it’s still dry. Top with sliced grilled chicken and make sure to let your two year old chomp the chips on top or you will hear about it at the table.