Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Favorite Summer Salad and a Blog-Hop

Have you read Miranda's blog?  It's definitely a favorite of mine.  She tells a good story, her creativity oozes through her blog (you have to look at her parties), and she has a beautiful perspective on life.  When Miranda asked if I'd participate in her Blog Hop this month, I happily agreed.  The topic is Favorite Summer Salad, and when I began to think about my favorite summer salad (could it be this one? or this one? or maybe this one?), it was kind of like asking me to pick a favorite color of the rainbow or a favorite child- next to impossible (although most days the color is red and the child is...well...never mind).  

I decided to share the current family favorite summer salad, and because it's a family favorite it's in heavy rotation this summer.  Luckily, everyone from my 1 year old (who eats the chicken and beans, at least) to my non-salad-loving husband loves this salad.  In fact, it was the husband who inspired me to make this in the first place.  We went out to Paradise Bakery and he ordered the BBQ chicken salad while I stood there in line almost too shocked to order my regular Californian Turkey.  After that I was on the hunt for a BBQ chicken salad recipe to make at home.  I've tried a few variations, but this is the one I'm making most frequently.  BBQ chicken salad purists may balk at the extra veggies that make an appearance in my version but hey, if I'm getting my family to eat vegetables, I'm going to pack in as many as I can. 

BBQ Chicken Salad

BBQ chicken:
2-3 chicken breasts, frozen or thawed (or skip the cooking and use a rotisserie chicken)
your favorite BBQ sauce (I use Sweet Baby Ray's, although someday I'd like to make homemade sauce)

Put chicken breasts in the crockpot, remove when cooked (cook time will depend on if they started out frozen or not, usually around 5 hours).  Shred cooked chicken breasts.  I love cooking chicken in the crock pot and don't usually encounter a problem with them being dried out, but if your crockpot seems to dry things out then add a little chicken broth while the chicken is cooking.  Mix shredded chicken with enough BBQ sauce until it's well coated and starts to stick together a little, I'd guess 1/4-1/2 cup.  (In case you can't tell, I'm one of those people who doesn't measure too much when cooking- sorry!)  Refrigerate BBQ chicken mixture until ready to use.  

I'm separating the salad into the sections of ingredients I always use and the things I add if I have them on hand- that's why I like this recipe- easily adaptable!

Must Have:
3-4 hearts Romaine lettuce (or whatever your favorite lettuce might be; adjust quantity depending on size of salad you desire)
1 cup frozen corn, thawed, or fresh corn steamed and cut off the cob
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 of red onion, chopped (or I've used a few green onions if I have no red onion)

Optional Additions (I add any or all of these depending on what I have on hand):
1 cucumber, diced
1 yellow squash, peeled and diced
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved (or any other diced fresh tomatoes)
1 avocado, diced
2-3 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese 
1/2 cup jicama, diced

When it comes to the dressing, I have two versions- the planned ahead version (Mel's BBQ Cilantro Lime dressing is delish!), or the in-a-hurry version that is used the majority of the time.  

Quick version:
1/4-1/3 cup of your favorite Ranch dressing
1-2 Tbsp BBQ sauce 
Mix together until well blended.  

Assemble salad ingredients, add BBQ chicken, and toss with dressing.  Yum!

Now comes the fun part. Hop over to the other participating blogs to check out even more favorite summer salads.  Enjoy having new summer salad recipes to try.  Recipes that involve not turning on the oven and still eating fresh, seasonal, delicious food?  Yes, please.  


jillconyers said...

Looks delicious and a great way to use leftovers!

Kimberlee said...

Sweet Baby Ray's is a favorite at our hosue too. And I think that BBQ Cilantro Lime dressing needs to be added to my 'must try' list.

P.S. You seemed to cut out. Which did you say was your favorite child? :)

Miranda said...

First of all, for barbeque, I die. So combining it with a salad? You my dear, are brilliant. Thank you for finding this recipe, making it your own, and sharing it with us. Bless you.

Evaly said...

We had this for dinner tonight and it was sooo good! Thanks for the new recipe :)