Salad as a main dish? You bet! This Southwest Chicken Salad with Avocado Lime Dressing is loaded with hearty toppings and won’t leave you hungry!
Salad is a staple in my diet. I have them for or with dinner at least five nights a week. Salad often gets a reputation for being bird food, boring and not a real meal, but I’m here to change that with this Southwest Chicken Salad with Avocado Lime Dressing.
When I say I like a salad for dinner I don’t mean one of those measly “house salads” that you order with dinner. Lettuce and tomatoes drenched in dressing is not my idea of a salad. Side note; why do restaurants put SO MUCH dressing on salads? It’s no wonder some restaurant salads can have more calories and fat than a burger! When I make a main dish salad there needs to be protein and toppings galore. I’m not usually a fan of store bought dressings because of all the unnecessary ingredients in them, so I end up making my own. I always leave my salads undressed until serving so the lettuce and topping stay crisp and crunchy.
This Southwest Chicken Salad with Avocado Lime Dressing is my idea of a filling and delicious main course salad. I used romaine hearts because I like how crisp they are and they hold up well so you can have it again the next day. The protein on this salad is grilled chicken seasoned with salt, pepper, cumin and chili powder. It would also be great with shrimp prepared the same way.
Now for my favorite part, the toppings! I had to use the cherry tomatoes from my garden for a little pop of sweetness and bright color. Then there’s the corn, radishes and cilantro. Finally my two favorite toppings, the toasted pepitas and baked corn tortilla strips. The tortillas strips are something you often find on a Southwest salad, but they’re usually fried. To save on some calories I made my own and baked them in the oven. It’s easy to do, plus you can make a big batch and use them throughout the week. Pepitas aren’t something you always find on a salad like this, but they were one I’m glad I added on. I seasoned them with a little chili powder and cumin before toasting them in a sauté pan. I probably ate half right out of the pan before they ever made it onto the salad! The dressing is a creamy combination of Greek yogurt, avocado, lime juice, cumin and queso fresco for a salty cheesy flavor. It pairs great with the Southwest flavors and you’ll have plenty leftover to use on other salads or as a dipping sauce for chicken or shrimp. Step up your salad game and try this loaded Southwest one today!