Salads taste so much better in the summer. There is a crunchy coolness to them that is perfect for evening meals on a hot day. My favorite salad recipes are the ones that work as a whole meal. I have a few different taco salad combinations that I like to use. The Mexican Chopped Salad and the Baja Chicken Salad are good options, but I played around with a new layered chicken taco salad recipe this weekend while my mom was visiting. I made a version that serves a group in a trifle dish, and I also tested it out in Mason jars to make single servings to take to school for school teacher lunches. It was a hit both ways.
2 heads Romaine lettuce chopped (or amount needed for number of people serving)
~3 c. chopped fresh spinach (or amount needed for number of people serving)
1 (15-oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (11-oz) can white shoepeg corn, rinsed and drained (or any type of canned corn)
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
2 c. cooked chicken, diced (I used 2 roasted chicken breasts)
1-2 c. shredded Colby-Jack cheese
2 green onions, chopped
2 T. fresh cilantro chopped
~3/4 c. salsa
~1/2 c. ranch salad dressing (or dressing of your choice)
tortilla chips, ( ~1/2 c. broken into smaller pieces)
Directions for Assembling in a Trifle Dish
Sprinkle black beans on the bottom layer of the trifle dish. You might not use the whole can. Add the amount of beans you like.
Mix the chopped Romaine and spinach together in a separate bowl. Add half of the lettuce mixture on top of the black beans.
Sprinkle a layer of corn on top of the lettuce.
Sprinkle cherry tomato pieces on top of the corn.
Add the chicken.
Cover the chicken with the remaining lettuce.
Drizzle ranch salad dressing over the top layer of lettuce. I like a light salad dressing layer.
Cover dressing with a layer of cheese.
Spoon desired amount of salsa in the center of the trifle dish on top of the cheese.
Sprinkle green onions and cilantro over the salsa. Sprinkle crushed tortilla chips around the edges. Sprinkle a little more cilantro in the center for garnish.
Offer additional whole tortilla chips, salad dressing, and salsa on the side.
Directions for Assembling in a Mason Jar
Spoon ~1 T. ranch dressing in the bottom of the jar.
Add ~2 T. black beans.
Add a layer of lettuce followed by corn, tomatoes, chicken pieces and another layer of lettuce. Do not overfill.
Sprinkle the top with cheese, green onions, and cilantro.
Put one spoonful of salsa on the top, add the lid and tighten.
To eat, pour salad into a bowl or out on a plate, so the dressing on the bottom will drizzle over the top. Serve with tortilla chips on the side.
You do not need exact ingredient amounts. Use amounts you need for the number of people you are serving. 2 heads of Romaine lettuce and 3 c. of spinach will serve 5-6 adults.
You can add/delete any toppings. I think diced red pepper would be a good addition and possibly seeded and diced cucumber.
Now that it is summer, I am more inclined to make a salad for a meal. Let’s be serious, now that it is summer, I am really not inclined to make anything at all. But on the odd day that I prepare a real meal, I might be more likely to make a salad. The Fried Chicken salad we took to Miss Priss’ teacher for their last day at school is my favorite, but this one might be my new second favorite.
A friend shared this Mexican Chopped Salad recipe that she found on Fine Cooking. I made it a few weekends ago. TheRoomDad grilled fish, and we ended up wrapping the salad with the fish on a tortilla for some really good fish tacos. There was leftover salad, which we used like salsa the next day with tortilla chips. It is quite delicious and very summery!
1 small clove garlic
3 T. fresh lime juice
3 T. fresh orange juice
2 t. finely chopped shallot
1 T. honey (more to taste)
3/4 t. ground cumin
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
2 large orange or red peppers
2 ears fresh corn
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large firm-ripe tomatoes, cored, seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 small jicama, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 large firm-ripe avocados, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 15-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 c. coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a heavy duty rimmed baking sheet with foil. Cut the peppers in half lengthwise and remove stem, seed core, and ribs. Put the pepper halves on the baking sheet cut side down. Husk the corn and put the ears on the baking sheet. Drizzle both with olive oil and rub oil around to coat the skins and corn kernels evenly. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven about 20 minutes until the peppers are soft and slightly shriveled and skin is blackening. Corn kernels should be lightly browned in some spots.
When the vegetables are done, let them rest until cool enough to handle. Scrape away the pepper skin (it should peel off easily) and cut the flesh into 1/2-inch dice. Cut the kernels from the cob.
Make the dressing. Mince and mash the garlic to a paste with 1/4 t. kosher salt. In a medium bowl, whisk the garlic paste with the lime and orange juices, shallot, honey, and cumin. Slowly add the oil in a thin stream, whisking until well blended. Season to taste with pepper and more salt and honey, if you like.
Artfully arrange the corn, tomatoes, peppers, jicama, avocado, and black beans in stripes or piles on a small platter or other wide, shallow serving dish. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad platter just before serving.
Spoon elements of the salad onto your plate or tortilla to eat (don’t toss ingredients together).
Squeeze fresh lime juice on the avocado slices to keep them from turning brown too quickly.
Serve the salad with grilled chicken, grilled fish, or grilled flank steak and warmed tortillas for really good tacos.
Chop all of the ingredients up to 4 hours ahead and store them covered in the refrigerator until time to serve. The assembly is very fast.
Don’t forget to sprinkle the cilantro on the salad before serving. I made this mistake. It was still delicious, so I guess cilantro is optional.