Once again, today I dip into the wealth of knowledge borne of six years waiting tables at Cracker Barrel and give you yet another ripped off recipe idea! (You’re welcome.)
This little salad idea was “inspired” by a dinner special featured at the restaurant one summer. I think it was called “Chicken Fiesta” or something like that. I can’t remember. I just remember eating it a lot because it was good and I could buy it at half-price on my breaktime. Word up.
(This chicken salad is also sacred to me because I’m allergic to mayonnaise and can’t eat regular chicken salad. While this is a different variation on the theme, the creaminess of the dressing and added texture of the black beans provide a welcome “legal” substitute. It’s also one more super use for leftover cooked chicken, although you can always skillet-grill a few fresh chicken tenders if you don’t have any leftovers on hand!)
Begin by warming up about 2 cups of leftover, cooked chicken OR brown a few fresh chicken tenderloin strips in a skillet or on a grill. (Prepackaged cooked chicken strips are also fine, of course, but they can be pricey if they’re not on sale and no coupons are to be had–remember, this website is all about keeping dinner on the cheaps!)
Drain a small can of black beans; rinse well. In a large bowl, toss the hot chicken with the unheated beans until mixed evenly.
Shred lettuce into two or three bowls. (Don’t waste your money on the pre-rinsed lettuce shreds–you’re going to have a couple of minutes to spare anyway while the chicken is heating!)
Cut a large tomato into several wedges and distribute among salad bowls. If desired, add fresh cucumber slices and/or black olives to the lettuce.
In a spouted measuring cup or bowl, combine equal parts ranch salad dressing (low-carb variety makes this a winning South Beach Diet recipe!) and chunky salsa (again, use organic or low-sugar varieties for South Beach Diet).
Stir mixture until dressing is a thin, pinkish-melon color.
Divide the cooling chicken/bean mixture among the bowls. Sprinkle generous helpings
of shredded Mexican cheese over salads. Pour salsa/ranch dressing over salad.
If desired (and not on South Beach Diet), serve topped with broken tortilla chips–I always save the “crumblies” at the bottom of Tostitos bags rather than pitch them. They make a great substitute for sunflower seeds or croutons in this Mexican-themed salad or on top of chili!