There are certain areas of the country where the cooking and the flavors and the dishes captivate people far beyond the confines of their borders. (This of course is true for places outside of the U.S. – perhaps we’ve all sampled and enjoyed some Italian cooking, yes?) But within the U.S., I think it’s safe to say that Southwestern food has a fan base far beyond its region.
The lines between Southwestern and Tex-Mex cuisines are a little blurry. There are beans and chilis and tomatoes and corn and similar spices in both. And there is a lot to say about the chilies of the Southwest (see here for loads of good info on that). When I was a kid and budding cook, Jane Butel’s books made a big impact on me, and that was my intro to the flavors of the Southwest.
In college I went to Sante Fe a couple of times and feel deeply in love with these flavors. I think one trip we went to Cafe Pasqual’s twice, because of the salsa alone. And then after graduating from college, I remember making a little joint in NYC called the Miracle Grill a regular spot, being impressed at how easily these flavors could make the leap from the Southwest up North. Does anyone remember that restaurant? The kitchen was run by a young unknown chef named (I hate to say wait for it, it’s so tired, but….) Bobby Flay.
Anyway! This salad is not authentic, it’s not fancy, it’s not anything other than a satisfying chicken salad inspired by the flavors of this much-loved culinary style. I feel a little bad now, having built up this cuisine so much, and then apologizing for my salad, but I will do a deeper dive into some of these dishes in the future, and meanwhile, we really, really, really loved this salad.
How to Assemble a Taco Salad Bowl
To assemble the salad, layer the dressed lettuce in individual shallow bowls, and divide the seasoned cooked chicken between the bowls.
Spoon the colorful vegetable and bean mixture over the chicken.
Then top with avocado and cilantro, if desired.
Serve with tortilla chips or Fritos on the side or crumbled on top. As you can see I went for the Fritos and they were so divine I can’t even tell you.
Other Chicken Salads You Should Try:
- Indonesian Chicken Salad
- Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad
- Chicken Sate Salad
- Greek Chicken Pasta Salad
- Chopped Salad with Chicken, Tomatoes and Lemon Thyme Dressing
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Southwestern Chicken Taco Salad Bowl
- 1 cup black beans drained and rinsed
- 8 radishes thinly sliced
- ½ cucumber halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into thin half moons
- ½ red onion cut into wedges, then slivered
- ½ cup thinly sliced red or yellow pepper
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice divided
- 4 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil divided
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1 ½ pounds thin chicken cutlets
- 1 clove garlic finely minced
- 8 cups thinly shredded romaine hearts
- 2 tablespoons cider or rice wine vinegar
- In a medium bowl combine the black beans, radishes, cucumbers, red onion, peppers, 1 tablespoon of the lime juice and 1 tablespoon of the oil. Season with salt and pepper.
- Mix together the cumin, chili powder, and salt and pepper. Sprinkle it over the chicken.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the garlic, swish it around, then add the chicken without crowding (in batches if necessary), and sauté until cooked through, about 4 minutes on each side. Remove the cutlets to a cutting board and cut them into bite-sized pieces. Sprinkle them with the remaining tablespoon lime juice.
- Meanwhile toss the lettuce with the vinegar and remaining 2 tablespoons oil, and season generously with salt and pepper.
- Pile the lettuce into 4 individual shallow bowls. Divide the chicken evenly between the bowls, piling it onto the lettuce. Spoon the vegetable mixture in equal amounts over the chicken, then top with avocado and cilantro, if desired, and serve with tortilla chips or fritos on the side or crumbled on top
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