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!
Baked Tortilla Strips
- 6 corn tortillas cut into approximately 1/2 inch wide strips
- Cooking spray
- Kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons raw pepitas
- 1/8 teaspoon oil
- 1/8 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- Chili powder, ground cumin, kosher salt and black pepper to taste
- 6 cups chopped romaine lettuce
- 6 radishes sliced thin
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 cup corn, fresh or frozen
- 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
- 1/2 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt
- 1/4 of a ripe avocado, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup crumbled queso fresco
- Juice of a lime
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons of water, use more as needed to loosen the dressing
Baked Tortilla Strips
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.
- Lay the corn tortilla strips on the foil in a single layer and spray the tops with cooking spray.
- Sprinkle with kosher salt and place them in the oven.
- Bake for 10-14 minutes or until golden and crisp.
- Heat a small non-stick skillet over medium heat.
- In a small bowl toss together the pepitas, oil and spices until coated.
- Add the pepitas to the skillet and toast until they start to turn lightly brown and become fragrant.
- Remove from the heat and cool.
- Preheat your grill or grill pan to medium-high heat.
- Season the chicken on both sides with the salt, pepper, chili powder and cumin.
- Grill the chicken approximately 4-6 minutes per side or until the thickest part is no longer pink inside.
- Remove from the grill and let it rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
- Add all of the ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.
- If the dressing is too thick add more water as needed to loosen it to your desired consistency, it should be a thicker/creamier type dressing.
- In a large serving bowl toss together the chopped romaine hearts and cilantro.
- Top with the remaining vegetables.
- Right before serving top with the pepitas and tortillas strips.
- Drizzle on the desired amount of dressing or serve alongside the salad.
If you don't plan to eat the entire salad in one day I recommend serving the pepitas, tortilla strips and dressing on the side so they stay crisp and the salad doesn't become soggy.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 361 Total Fat: 14g Saturated Fat: 3g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 9g Cholesterol: 61mg Sodium: 741mg Carbohydrates: 30g Fiber: 6g Sugar: 6g Protein: 32g