Cracker Barrel-style Chicken Tenders Salad
8 boneless, skinless chicken tenderloins, thawed
1 cup reduced-calorie Italian dressing
2 eggs (to be hard-boiled)
1 recipe Chewy Homemade Sourdough Croutons
Nonstick cooking spray
3 cups lettuce, shredded
(4) 1-oz. wedges of colby cheese
Place chicken in a bowl with Italian dressing dumped on top. Let marinate while you begin the other tasks.
Next, place 2 (or more if you want extras) eggs♥ in a pan of water over medium-high heat to boil. Make sure they stay on the heat for 20 minutes after reaching rapid boil.
♥Chef’s note: When boiling eggs, a good tip for making eggs that release well from their shells later is to use old eggs. If you know you’re going to be making something that calls for boiled eggs, buy them at least 1 week or more in advance. Newer eggs are going to stick in their shells and be messier when you crack them later.
After eggs get going on the stove, now is a good time to whip up a quick batch of knockoff Cracker Barrel signature chewy croutons. Click here for those speedy instructions. Or, if you don’t want the croutons, you can skip ahead to the next step.
Place a skillet over medium heat and blast with nonstick cooking spray. Once skillet is hot, add the marinated chicken tenders to the skillet. Tongs work well for this task. Pour any remaining dressing from the bowl over the cooking chicken. Medium heat is key here, because any sugar or sweetener in the dressing will blacken if you use high heat. You want pretty little golden tenders that aren’t hard or dark on the outside! Be prepared to let tenderloin cook up to ten minutes if necessary.
While chicken is cooking (be sure to check meat and flip sides intermittently), shred lettuce and divide onto 2 plates. Slice tomato into 8-10 large wedges and arrange on outside perimeter of lettuce. Cut four 1-oz. wedges of colby cheese and arrange 2 per plate on left- and right-hand sides of lettuce.
Transfer hard-boiled eggs to an ice water bath for a couple of minutes before peeling. This is a good time to check to see if the chicken is thoroughly cooked and remove from heat when done.
Peel eggs and slice each egg vertically into 2 pieces. Arrange egg halves next to colby wedges on both plates.
Lay 4 finished chicken tenderloins across top of each lettuce bed, and decorate the finished salads with those deliciously chewy croutons. Serve each plate with a large cup of ranch dressing on the side.
Now, take a bite and tell me this isn’t the EXACT salad you’re used to eating at Cracker Barrel!