It’s chicken salad season again. I’ve been planning on just making my old favorite with cranberries and pecans. Then I started playing around with an orange chicken salad idea. Ah, but then I started thinking southwestern flavors. I love southwestern flavors – maybe the next place I move will be New Mexico or Arizona. I hear you can get someone else to roast and peel your chiles there.
There are a lot of possible ways of making a southwestern chicken salad. I decided to go with a pico de gallo base – tomatoes, peppers, onions and jalapenos – and add some corn and beans and olives. You could add avocado or serve the salad with some avocado so it doesn’t disappear in the mix. You could make the dressing with avocado but I don’t think that’s so pretty. Add cilanto or parsley if you like. I meant to add some cilantro but forgot. 🙂
Fiesta Chicken Salad
about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds chicken tenders (breasts or thighs would be fine, too)
1 1/2 small onions or 1 medium, 1/4 inch dice
1 or 2 yellow, orange or red bell peppers (I like the mighty minis!), 1/4 inch dice equal to the volume of onions
1 large jalapeno, finely diced (take the seeds and membrane out if you don’t like a little heat)
about 5 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced and lightly salted and drained
1 can Green Giant niblets, drained (these are canned without water and I think taste fresher, feel free to use fresh)
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 large can sliced black olives, drained
I probably could have added some minced cilantro or parsley…
1-3 teaspoons Taco seasoning mix
enough mayo or light mayo to bind. I suggest adding a little at a time.
6 ounces shredded pepper jack
Like any chicken salad, or really any salad, it’s more about proportions than specific measurements. And it’s also about what you like. I start with the vegetables. I’m going to want about the same amount of cooked chicken as I have chopped vegetables.
So, I dice up all the vegetables, rinse and add the beans, olives and corn, mix them all together with about a teaspoon of my taco seasoning. Noting the volume, I put the vegetables in the fridge to cool and blend their flavors.
Then I decide how much chicken I want. Me, I want about an even ratio of chicken to vegetables. You may want more or less chicken. You can cook your chicken however you want or buy a rotisserie chicken and use that. I prefer to poach my chicken using this method. If you use that method, your veg is in the fridge, your chicken is poaching and won’t over cook because the burner is turned off, and you can go off and do something else. Remove the chicken from the poaching liquid (which includes a tablespoon or so of my taco seasoning) and dice into small bites. Let cool a bit before adding to veg mixture.
Then you can taste and decide if you want more taco seasoning. Add a little then mix in the mayo and taste again. Last, mix in the shredded cheese.
Serve on a sandwich, in a wrap, on some lettuce or tortilla chips of your choice or in a bowl. Is delicious!
Zazzy’s Taco Seasoning
The thing about making your own is you can use less (or none) of something like cumin, which tends to be a little strong to some. Or less salt. You can make it just right for you, though it may make a few tries. This recipe makes a little more than half a cup. I use it for many things and it’s also an excellent seasoning for fajitas.
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated garlic powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 1/2 tablespoons Mexican oregano (regular oregano will do)
2 tablespoons powdered red chile (to taste)
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
4-5 cubes of Knorr tomato bouillon with chicken flavoring
I like to blend this all together in a spice grinder (usually a coffee grinder you use only for spices).