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Recipe No. 02: Chili Lime Chicken Salad - Ardent Market

Recipe No. 02: Chili Lime Chicken Salad

Beat the May Grey with this sunshine-in-a-bowl.

Dressing

1 avocado

1 c fresh loose cilantro

juice of 1 lime

1 fresh jalapeño - or less*

salt, pepper, garlic, cumin, to taste

1/2 c water

Chili Lime Chicken

4 chicken breasts

olive oil

1-2 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp onion powder, garlic powder (or fresh), smoked paprika, cumin, salt, pepper

cayenne pepper to taste*

juice of one lime

Salad

2 heads of romaine lettuce, finely chopped

1 roma tomato finely diced

1/4 c red onion finely diced

1/2 c roasted pepitas (lightly salted or unsalted)

crumbled cotija (if DF process pepitas and 1-2 tbs nutritional yeast until a chunky powder)

Suggestions

  • For a plant-based option, substitute chicken with 15 oz can of chickpeas (strained and rinsed) or pressed extra-firm tofu. You can cube or shred the tofu. Both substitutions can be roast it on a sheet pan at 375 degrees F for about 20-30 minutes, flipping it halfway through.
  • *Heat can climb with some of these ingredients—if you’re sensitive to spice, add a little at a time.
  • Taste along the way. We season with our hearts here. These are suggested measurements from a person who rarely uses measuring spoons or cups.

Method

Give all your produce a good wash. To crisp up the lettuce leaves, give them an ice bath in a large bowl for 20 minutes. While the lettuce soaks, prepare the chicken and place it in a bowl with a drizzle of olive oil. In a separate bowl, combine the seasonings and generously sprinkle them over the chicken. Mix and coat thoroughly, and set aside.

After drying the lettuce thoroughly (set aside the water for house plants or garden veg), chop it finely and toss it into a large bowl. Grill the chicken for 10-12 minutes for best results and a delicious char, or roast it in the oven at 425°F for 25 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, dice up the tomato and onion and toss them with the lettuce. When the chicken is done, let it rest and move on to making the dressing. In a blender or food processor, combine the dressing ingredients until you get the right consistency. If it comes out like guacamole, keep adding water 1/4 cup at a time until it reaches a consistency that is easy to pour.

To serve, slice the chicken against the grain in thin strips. Toss some of the pepitas in the salad (saving some for toppings) and dress the salad.* Once the salad is well mixed, dish it up with the sliced protein on top and sprinkle with the remaining pepitas and cotija. Serve with homemade or store-bought tortilla chips.

*Depending on your preference, you’ll have some dressing left over for more salads or tacos!

Madness

If anyone is wild over fresh produce, it’s me. I'm always finding inspiration in my local farmers' market and backyard planting beds. Cooking with what's in season is one of my self-imposed boundaries, which helps me diversify my repertoire and tap into my creativity. Although we have access to all kinds of foods year-round, I try my best to honor the bounty of the seasons.

I know I'm sharing back-to-back salad recipes, but each is based on what speaks to me from the garden. This week, I had glorious lettuce from the market, along with my own limes, cilantro, and peppers, which begged to be plated.

Growing up in Southern California has not only made me a produce nerd but it's also influenced my use of Mexican food as comfort food. When the May Grey rolls in, I find myself craving tangy, spicy, textural, and colorful dishes that can lift my spirits. I'm practically willing the summer sun to join my gardening, gathering, and grilling pursuits.

If the sun does come out, this salad is best enjoyed outside with candlelight, a small gathering, an easy playlist, and some citrus bitters in Topo Chico. You could even make it a full event with Citrus Agave Margaritas/Mocktails and an appetizer of fresh garden pico de gallo and guacamole. Consider a Carajillo for dessert.

I am excited for you to give this a try and add a little sunshine to your month. Be sure to check out the other ingredients that make this meal special and share the experience.

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