07 October 2013

Eats: southwest chicken salad

If you’d have asked me, not that long ago, what I could eat every day of the week and be perfectly content? I would have said pasta. It could be coated in cheese, or tomato sauce, or just olive oil and herbs. It could have meat or veggies mixed in, or it could be plain. I’d happily feast on it, day and night.

But something’s happened recently, and I’m just as surprised as anyone by it. My beloved pasta... has been dethroned. I still love pasta, but when it comes to what I’d happily eat every day? My answer has changed, surprisingly, to tacos.. Or any variety of taco-like food, really. Like this salsa chicken and rice I told you about only a couple of weeks ago. Basically, I could eat any combination of the stuff you’d find in a Chipotle service line, day in and day out, and still look forward to my next meal.

Avocado. Corn. Sour cream. Lettuce. Beans. PEPPERS, oh my goodness, all the peppers. Jalapeño, bell, poblano. I will have them all.

I try to refrain from writing meal plans that just say “Monday: tacos. Tuesday: tacos. Wednesday: tacos. Repeat.” Maybe I wouldn’t get bored, but Mr. P might, and it would make the Eats posts on this website awfully redundant (as if they aren’t already, with the recent salsa chicken post). Still, maybe you’ve noticed: tacos, or meals reminiscent of tacos show up on my meal plan at least once a week. And it’s often the night I look forward to most – particularly if it’s the meal that I’m sharing with you today.

I’m calling it a “southwest chicken salad”, but really, you could serve it up in corn tortillas and call it tacos, wrap it up in a flour tortilla and call it a burrito, or spoon it over rice and call it a burrito bowl. You could even just call it deconstructed tacos. That’s close enough to tacos for me!

Taco nights always start with some sort of seasoning packet. Yes. I’ve gone without the seasoning packet before, and I’ve regretted it. Just get yourself a seasoning packet and stop beating yourself up about it.

Fajitas are like fancy tacos, so fajita mix is totally cool by me. Oh, and I do at least go for the low-sodium version, if possible, but there wasn’t such a thing for fajita mix.

The chicken, by the by, is pulled from a rotisserie chicken, so I didn’t even bother cooking my own chicken for this. Yet another reason to love this meal!

Be sure to add a little extra liquid to the chicken and seasoning mix – water if you want, broth if you’re fancy. The extra liquid will serve as a dressing for the salad.

You also need lettuce for this salad. I know, WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITHOUT ME TO TELL YOU THESE THINGS.

I always go for romaine, because iceberg lettuce is just plain gross. Romaine lettuce is what will separate your taco salad from the cheap Mexican joint with the tiled tables, melamine plates, and exclusively-iceberg lettuce. It’s healthier, too.

Then there’s the other add-ins. For this salad I used corn (frozen/boiled), avocado, black beans (canned, rinsed, microwaved), and a roasted poblano (see how to roast a pepper in the toaster oven here, or over the open flame on your gas-burner stove here).

The pepper got deseeded, diced, and mixed with the corn to make a sort of... succotash? Or a relish? Whatever, I mixed them together:

I’d have mixed the beans in, too, but Mr. P is bean-free. So, I kept my beans separate. Until it came time to pile it all together, that is:

Don’t forget to top with salsa (we like Herdez), cheese, and sour cream! The sour cream and salsa mix with the fajita sauce from the chicken and coat everything else. No extra dressing needed!

Oh em gee, you guys. That is my new everyday food. And it’s so easy to adapt – Mr. P adds olives and lime juice to his. I’ll throw in some bell peppers if I have them (a jar of roasted red peppers from TJ’s works nicely). It’s all about easy food that I want to stuff into my face ASAP.

If you’ve always thought that taco salads must be made with beef and iceberg lettuce and a gajillion-calorie fried shell a la Taco Bell? Do yourself a favor and have this instead. And do me a favor and invite me over for dinner when you do. Enjoy!

Finally, here’s this week’s meal plan:

Sunday: bacon-wrapped pork roast with apples, Brussels sprouts, and corn. It was a delicious meal – I’ll tell you about it soon!

Monday: pesto gnocchi with broccolini and salad

Tuesday: rotisserie chicken tacos with chips and salsa (SEE? Every week!)

Wednesday: leftovers

Thursday: coconut chicken with apricot preserves and lemony green beans

Friday: Chinese chicken thighs with veggies and garlic noodles

Saturday: leftovers again! Or date night... lately I’ve finagled a Saturday date-night when leftovers are on the menu!

That’s all she wrote, dear readers. Have a great week!