Thursday, May 31, 2012

Spicy BBQ Chicken Salad

One night last week (the week that I didn't cook), we had dinner at Bob Evans. I'm not gonna lie, Bob Evans doesn't usually excite me. I'm sure that Bob's a great cook and all, but I'd rather go somewhere else. 

But, they were having a fundraiser where a certain percentage of the proceeds went to the rescue mission here in the Bean Town - a great cause - so we decided to go. Plus, we had the opportunity to dine and catch up with some friends. It turned out to be a great night.

It took me awhile to decide what to order, but I eventually settled on the Wildfire Chicken Salad. (Mostly so I could also get a side of banana nut bread... mmmm.)

Seriously, one of the best salads I've ever had. And at Bob Evans of all places.

It was loaded with romaine lettuce, bbq grilled chicken, corn, tomatoes, cheese, and crunchy BBQ tortilla chips. (And TONS of them. Like chili cheese Fritos, but way better.) It came with a BBQ ranch dressing that was just perfect.

Thus began my love affair with the bbq chicken salad. We went to Red Robin on Saturday with T & T, and I had to order their version, the Whiskey River BBQ Chicken Salad. This one had some of the same ingredients, with the addition of black beans, jicama, avocado, and frizzled onions! Seriously. Nothing can make a salad better than topping it with deep-fried onions. (And it's gotta be healthy, right? It's a salad!)

So I set out to combine the two into a salad of my own.

I started with the tortilla strips. I sliced some corn tortillas into thin strips, sprayed them with cooking spray, and sprinkled them with our favorite BBQ seasoning. 

Get another use out of your pizza cutter!

We got this in Saugatuck, MI at the best little spice shop. It's wonderful.

After a quick trip in the oven, they were crispy, crunchy, and perfect for snacking salad topping.

Just try not to eat them all before you have the salads ready.  Or if you're like me, just make extra to account for the snack-age that will surely occur.

For the chicken, I just seasoned some chicken breast tenders with the same BBQ seasoning, and threw them on the grill. When they were done, I drizzled it with a bit of BBQ sauce.

Now for the fun part, the toppings. Black beans, corn, and avocado. Those are easy. But jicama. I'd never had it before Saturday. I learned that it's some sort of Mexican potato... and it is delicious. It's very crunchy and almost a bit sweet. It reminded me of a water chestnut, but not so Asian-y. (I know, that is such a great description.)

Introducing... the jicama.
How do you cut up a jicama? Well, first, you peel it. Which can be rather challenging. Then, you slice it down the center, and then into strips. And then, cut the strips into little cubes.

Naked jicama.

Halfway through the cutting process.

LOTS of jicama!
And then you will have a butt-load of jicama, and you only need a cup for the salads. (Any ideas on what to do with the extras?)

Now for the super-secret (from scratch) BBQ ranch dressing. It's really hard to make. 

BBQ sauce + ranch + a pinch of cayenne. In a bowl. I think you can handle it. ;)

Just make sure you remember to stir it up. I didn't get a pic of the end product.

Now for the salad assembly. First, the veggies.

Chopped romaine, black beans, corn, avocado, the beloved jicama, and a few grape tomatoes for aesthetics. Then comes the cheese, spicy pepper jack. The perfect kick of heat.

Now, just top off the salad with the fresh grilled chicken tenders and BBQ tortilla strips, and you're ready to eat! Serve with the BBQ ranch. This salad is so good. So many different flavors and textures. Sweet BBQ chicken, crisp jicama, cool avocado, spicy cheese. And it was even Business Man approved.

Is it bad that I'm already looking forward to lunch leftovers?

Spicy BBQ Chicken Salad

4 servings

  • For the tortilla strips
    • 4 corn tortillas
    • 1 tablespoon bbq rub
  • For the chicken
    • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast tenders
    • 1 tablespoon bbq rub
    • 2 tablespoons bbq sauce
  • For the salads
    • 3 heads romaine, chopped
    • 1 cup black beans
    • 1 cup corn
    • 1 cup diced jicama
    • 1 avocado, diced
    • 1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
  • For the BBQ ranch dressing
    • ½ cup ranch dressing
    • ¼ cup bbq sauce
    • pinch cayenne pepper


For the tortilla strips, preheat oven to 425*F. Slice tortillas into thin strips and spread onto a baking stone. Spray with cooking spray and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon bbq seasoning. Bake 15-18 minutes, until golden and crispy, stirring halfway.

While the tortilla strips bake, prepare chicken. Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Sprinkle bbq seasoning over chicken breast tenders. Grill 4-5 minutes on each side, or until juices run clear. Remove to a plate and drizzle with bbq sauce.

For the BBQ ranch dressing, mix ranch, bbq sauce, and cayenne pepper until thoroughly combined.

For the salads, layer romaine, black beans, corn, jicama, avocado, and shredded pepper jack. Top with 2-3 chicken breast tenders per salad. Top with crispy tortilla strips and serve with BBQ ranch dressing.

Source: original recipe, inspired by Bob Evans & Red Robin


Bronte said...

I LOVE bbq chicken salad!! I will definitely use this recipe - who knows, the kids might even like it too!!! I discovered jicama a few years ago but I don't dice it nearly as nicely as you do! :)

Alissa said...

I am so glad you said "butt-load". I say it all the time and people here make fun of me (in a loving way) for it. This looks delicious!

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