People are cooking now more than ever because of the quarantine. I’ve been trying to be creative and come up with recipes using ingredients I have on hand. In an attempt to eat healthy(ish) during this crazy time, I’ve been making more salads as our weeknight dinners. Due to the fact that it is not as easy as it once was to pick up fresh ingredients whenever we please, I try to plan ahead and have a container of spring mix in the fridge. That way I can just add any veggies, fruits, nuts, cheeses etc that I have on hand and toss with a simple vinaigrette or store bought dressing. I have been making this BBQ Chicken Salad a lot recently because my Husband loves it and it is super filling and I usually have most of the ingredients. This salad is versatile and the ingredients can easily be swapped out. Instead of making BBQ chicken thighs, you can easily cut up last night’s leftover chicken and simply toss with some BBQ sauce. If you don’t have any chicken (or you’d like to make this salad vegan) you can use chickpeas instead. Just drain, rinse, dry and peel the skins off before tossing them with some BBQ sauce. Then lay them on a baking sheet and bake at 425 for about 15 to 20 minutes (tossing halfway through) until crispy. I like scallions in this salad but red onions or shallots would work just as well. If you don’t have tortillas to fry for strips, just crumble up some tortilla chips. I use canned corn but fresh corn would be perfect. I love this Cashew Ranch Dressing, but you could always use any store bought ranch dressing that you have in your fridge. This homemade dairy free option is SO delicious and healthy but does take a bit more time and ingredients. I hope these tips help you to get creative with the ingredients you have while staying healthy!
- 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
- Salt and pepper
- 1 cup BBQ Sauce
- 6 cups spring mix (or any lettuce mix you like)
- 2 avocados, sliced
- 5 scallions, sliced
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup canned corn, drained and rinsed (or cut fresh corn off the cob)
- Tortilla strips (recipe below)
- Cashew Ranch Dressing (recipe below)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place the chicken thighs on a foil lined baking sheet and season each with salt and pepper. Then lightly brush the chicken with BBQ sauce. Cook in the oven for about 20 minutes. Then remove and baste again with BBQ sauce. Place the chicken back into the oven and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes. Once the chicken is done, remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Once cool enough to handle, chop the chicken and set aside.
To assemble the salad, add the lettuce to a large bowl. Top with avocados, tomatoes, scallions, corn, beans, tortilla strips and chicken. Add your desired amount of dressing to the salad and toss. Top with a drizzle of BBQ sauce and serve.
Cashew Ranch Dressing
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 cup water
- Small bunch of Chives, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup Italian Parsley, finely chopped
Pour water over cashews in a bowl and allow to soak cashews for at least 30 minutes.
Next, drain the cashews and place them in a blender. Add the garlic powder, salt, lemon juice and water and blend until smooth. If you like a thinner dressing, simply add more water to help achieve the desired consistency.
Pour dressing into a bowl and stir in the herbs. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Flour tortillas (about 4)
- Vegetable oil
- Lawry’s seasoning salt
Thinly slice the tortillas into strips. Place a medium pan over medium heat. Coat the pan with oil and allow it to get hot. Then add in the tortilla strips in batches so that they are in an even single layer. Flip the strips and continue cooking until browned and crispy. Remove onto a plate. Continue this process until all the tortillas are cooked. Then sprinkle the strips with Lawry’s seasoning salt and toss to coat.