The Passion Fruits

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Even the Airports Have Better Food: Chipotle Chicken Salad

Ok, so, confession time. Whilst our recent trip to the West Coast was indeed a lovely one, it was much more focused on the friends and the booze than it was on the food. The friends and the booze were all simply divine, and really the food was very good too–a lovely tri-tip, a literally garden-fresh salad, some adorable cupcakes–but what stuck with me most on the comestibles front, embarrassingly enough, was the chipotle chicken sandwich I snarfled at the (admittedly fairly posh) Santa Barbara airport while waiting for our flight home.

So. Lame. Yes, I know. And I will apologize now to all the friends that I used to go get lunch with at the Red Cross cafeteria and who swore by Miss Mable’s chicken wraps with the chipotle mayo. For the record, I was wrong, you were right; the stuff is pretty much awesome. There, now that I’ve gotten all that off my chest, let’s talk chipotle chicken salad, which I must say is much, much better than the airport’s…

 I thought it’d be easier to put most of the ingredients together, hence a chicken salad that can be made into a sandwich, but doesn’t need to be. The chipotle adds it’s tingly, smoky heat, and that’s rounded out with some pungent garlic, green cilantro, and bright lime. Jicama and radish add lots of crunchy texture, and everything’s glued together with just enough yogurt or mayo to do the job. The former adds a nice lactic tang, the latter is much more mellow. Up to you…

Chipotle Chicken Salad
Yield: ~ 4c

1 whole chicken breast
1/2 c Greek yogurt or mayonnaise
1 tbs fresh lime juice
1 chipotle in adobo, plus extra sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 c cilantro, packed
1/3 c jicama
1/3 c red radishes

For serving: arugula or other salad greens, tomatoes, avocados, tortillas

Cook the chicken. Grill it, grill pan it, broil it, whatever. Once cooked, set aside to cool before cutting into strips.

For the dressing, combine the yogurt, lime juice, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Mince the chipotle finely and add it to the dressing, adding additional liquid from the can to taste. Grate a peeled clove of garlic to a paste with a ceramic ginger grater (or mince very finely) and add to the dressing. Stir to combine and set aside.

Peel the jicama and cut into thick match sticks. Add them to the dressing. You’ll only need about 1/3 of a small jicama, but it is lovely on its own or combined with other fruit (esp. pineapple). Rinse, top, and tail the radishes. Cut them into similarly sized sticks and add to the dressing. Rinse and dry the cilantro, chop roughly, and add to the dressing.

Add the cooled chicken strips and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Serve as a salad over greens with tomato and avocado wedges, or similarly accoutered in a wrap or sandwich.

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