Cheap Recipe: Fast Salsa-Ranch Chicken Salad

19 Mar

For a printable version of this recipe and complete ingredients listing, click here.

Something different for a “same-old” evening.

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!)

Combine hot chicken with room temperature, drained beans.

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.

Chop some lettuce.

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!)

Love that fresh tomato!

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.

Equal parts salsa & ranch dressing.

Divide the cooling chicken/bean mixture among the bowls. Sprinkle generous helpings

Mix it together...

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!

So creamy...and spicy!



2 Responses to “Cheap Recipe: Fast Salsa-Ranch Chicken Salad”


  1. Healthy Recipe: Chicken Fiesta Salad « The Red Kitchen Project - October 25, 2010

    […] Note: Gracie is up to her eyeballs in work, so Emily is sharing her own family’s version of Fast Salsa-Ranch Chicken Salad below. This colorful salad is as tasty as it is […]

  2. The Red Kitchen Project » Blog Archive » Healthy Recipe: Chicken Fiesta Salad - February 10, 2011

    […] Note: Gracie is up to her eyeballs in work, so Emily is sharing her own family’s version of Fast Salsa-Ranch Chicken Salad below. This colorful salad is as tasty as it is […]

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