Taco Salad Recipe with Chicken and Avocado Lime Dressing

When coming up with this recipe all I could think about was that weird taco salad rendition that you would get in elementary school from the cafeteria.  Truth be told it was my second favorite day of the month behind pizza day J.  Fast forward 25 years I decided to make my own, un-inspired from what I used to eat back in the day lol.  Don’t get me wrong, the classic tortilla shell with iceberg lettuce, ground beef, salsa, cheese and avocado is super good, especially if you’re craving some grease while trying to be healthy, yes I know the irony but I’m sure you get it, is delicious.  Well I’m 35 now and need to watch a bit more of what I’m eating or else it’s going straight to my chin for all to see…  Not cool!

To make a taco salad that’s a bit on the healthier side you first have to start with what on earth you plan on doing with that oversized fried tortilla bowl shell thing.  Instead of saturating a salad in all that leftover fryer grease why not just crumble up a few baked, or lightly fried corn tortilla ships and mixing it in the salad?  Genius I know; I’m here to help!  Once you’ve got the tortilla part figured it out, it’s all about creativity and what you’d like to do with the taco salad.  I always say that you need to get to the grocery store and see what produce is in season, and possibly on sale.  No need to make an out of season $80 taco salad when you’ve got fresh peak season ingredients right in front of you.   The reason I always say things like this is so you can adapt this recipe to the seasons.  For instance, this taco salad recipe might look a bit different over the winter months.  perhaps you’ll use some tasty root vegetables like carrots, or fennel, or even celeriac root to give this dish a wonderful earthy flavor.  The whole point is to always make sure your making a recipe that is in season or to take the liberty to tweak it for whatever season you’re in.

One of my favorite things to put in salads are watermelon radishes but dang are they seasonal and kind of hard to find.  I honestly walked past it for a week until I read the dang label on what the light green root veg was before realizing it.  I don’t see them often so I forget what the heck they look like or it could be because I’m in Chicago and still a bit chilly here and I’m still swimming in root vegetables from the winter.  Regardless if you can find these suckers they are guaranteed to be the highlight of every dish because they are gorgeous and dang tasty.  They are a much milder spiced radish and about 4 times the size so use them freely.

In addition to the tortillas and radishes I decided to use spring mix as the base, since it’s spring, and then I loaded on black beans, toasted corn kernels from the cob, sliced cherry tomatoes, a homemade pico de gallo, sliced cucumbers, shredded chihuahua cheese and finally a spice rubbed and seared chicken breast.  Oh wait, I made an insanely delicious avocado lime dressing to go on top.  Since there are only a few things in here that need instruction let’s start with the pico.  It’s simply a combo of diced vine ripe tomatoes, yellow onion, jalapeño, cilantro, lime juice and salt and pepper.  It works great on this salad and eaten with tortilla chips!  Next is the spice rubbed chicken.  I did a simple blend of 1 teaspoon each of dry onion, garlic, cumin, paprika, chili powder, oregano and Kosher salt.  Once I rubbed the chicken I cooked it up on our flat top and got it nice and browned, like in the pic.  From there I sliced it and loaded up the salad with all of these ingredients and put the dressing to the side.  Let’s talk about that dressing for a minute.

The avocado lime dressing taste almost like a Latin ranch dressing.  it’s a blend of mayonnaise, buttermilk, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, avocado, lime juice, fresh cilantro and salt and pepper.  I blended it until it was smooth and tasted it and then rejoiced to the heavens.  DUDE is this avocado lime dressing good!!  Dress the taco salad accordingly and enjoy!

Taco Salad Recipe with Chicken and Avocado Lime Dressing
Change up the old classic with this brand new delicious twist for a Taco Salad Recipe with Chicken and Avocado Lime Dressing!
For the Chicken:
  • 1 teaspoon of onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • 1 teaspoon of dry oregano
  • 1 to 1 ½ teaspoons of Kosher salt
  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
For the Salad:
  • 4 seeded and small diced vine ripe tomatoes
  • ½ peeled and small diced yellow onion
  • 1 seeded and small diced jalapeño
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro
  • 8 cups of packed spring mix lettuce
  • 2 thinly sliced watermelon radishes
  • 1 cup of cooked corn kernels
  • 1 thinly sliced cucumber
  • 1 cup of sliced assorted cherry tomatoes
  • 1 15-ounce can of rinsed black beans
  • 4 peeled, seeded and sliced avocados
  • 1 cup of shredded chihuahua cheese
  • 1 bag of tortilla chips
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
For the Dressing:
  • 1 cup of mayonnaise
  • ½ cup of buttermilk
  • 1 peeled and seeded avocado
  • ¾ teaspoon of onion powder
  • ¾ teaspoon of garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon of Kosher salt
  • ½ cup of cilantro leaves
  • juice of 1 lime
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
  1. Chicken: combine all seasonings together in a small bowl and generously season the chicken breasts on all sides. Note there may be some seasoning left over.
  2. heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and cook the chicken on each side until golden brown and cooked through out, about 5 to 6 minutes per side. Rest the chicken and slice.
  3. Pico: In a medium size bowl mix together the diced tomatoes, onions, jalapeño, lime juice, cilantro leaves, and salt and pepper until combined and keep cool before serving.
  4. Dressing: Add all ingredients to a blender and blend on high speed until smooth. keep cool before serving.
  5. To Serve: In a large bowl add in the spring mix lettuce and then top off with sliced chicken, pico de gallo, radishes, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, black beans, avocado, corn, cheese and tortilla chips. Serve the dressing on the side.


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