Sunday, March 19, 2017

BBQ Chicken Salad

When I hear the word "barbecue," I think, "indulgence!"  Barbecue usually includes piles of grilled or smoked meats, biscuits, corn bread, mac and cheese, deep-fried veggies, and mayo-drenched coleslaw.  This salad, however?  Light, crunchy, sweet, salty, spicy, tangy, satisfying, protein-packed, and one of the most delicious things I've eaten in a long time.  Lighten up your lunches this week with this incredible BBQ chicken salad!

YIELD: 4 quart-sized salads

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 c prepared BBQ sauce, divided
  • 1/4 c ranch dressing
  • 1 cup cooked black beans
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 2 ears corn, grilled, cooled, and kernels cut off cobs
  • 2-4 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2-3 hearts romaine, shredded
  • 1-2 cups tortilla chips, lightly crushed

  1. Make the BBQ chicken: marinade the chicken thighs in 1/4 cup BBQ sauce for 2-12 hours.  Grill or roast the chicken.  Cool, then dice or shred the chicken.
  2. Pack the salads: add 1 tbsp ranch dressing and 1 tbsp BBQ sauce to each of 4 tall quart-sized containers.  Layer the chicken, black beans, red onion, corn, cheese, tomato, and lettuce in the jars.  Divide the tortilla chips evenly among 4 snack-size zip-top bags for each salad.  Refrigerate until serving.
  3. Enjoy your salad: invert your salad onto a plate or into a bowl.  Top with tortilla chips.
TIME-SAVING TIPS: Substitute prepared rotisserie chicken for the marinated, grilled chicken thighs.  Substitute canned black beans for the cooked black beans.  Cook 1 cup frozen corn kernels in 2 tsp olive oil until lightly browned, and substitute for the grilled corn.

SPECIAL DIET SWAPS:  For a vegetarian salad, substitute extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed, for the chicken.  For a vegan salad, substitute tofu for the chicken, vegan cheddar for the dairy cheese, and also your favorite prepared creamy vegan salad dressing for the ranch dressing.  For a gluten-free salad, choose ranch and BBQ sauce labeled gluten-free, and choose 100% corn tortilla chips.  This salad is nut-free as-is.

Food styling, photography, and infographics by Robert Campbell.

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