Monday, June 20, 2011

Grilled Southwest Chicken Salad

There's something about grilled corn that really gets my juices flowing.

I mean, look at those sexy, perfectly charred ears of deliciousness. Nothing screams summer to me like sweet, smokey grilled corn. Mmm.

Usually, that would be the end of the story. Beautiful fresh corn on the cob would go onto the grill to become slightly charred and ultra sweet, and then I'd promptly stuff my face with all the epic summer flavor my little tummy could handle. But for some reason, this time I decided to share the amazingness of the grilled corn... with lightly grilled bell pepper, black beans, chicken, and fresh cilantro. And more green chili-chipotle sour cream dressing than I should probably admit, let's be honest.

Even though this salad is comprised of relatively simple ingredients, the combination was quite extraordinary. Black beans and corn are some of my favorite salad toppings to begin with, but grilling the corn and bell pepper took the flavors to a whole new level of awesome. It took an otherwise unimpressive salad and turned it into a dish that tastes as quintessentially of summer as a wedge of watermelon and a glass of iced tea. The dressing - which I created completely ad lib, adding a little bit of this and a little bit of that until the flavor resembled what I had in mind - is creamy without being heavy, and tasty without being overwhelmingly spicy.

But perhaps the most exciting thing about this salad is that it's completely versatile. Don't like red bell peppers? Leave them out! Craving a little avocado? Add a few slices, or, better yet, mix it into the dressing! This salad was completely spontaneous and perfectly fit my cravings at the time, but I love knowing that I could easily tweak it to fulfill whatever cravings I may have tomorrow.

Grilled Southwest Chicken Salad
a Learning Curve original!

For Salad
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, thinly sliced in half
cooking spray
salt and pepper
8 cups mixed salad greens
1 red bell pepper, cut in half and seeded
2 ears fresh corn
one 15-ounce can black beans, preferably low-sodium, drained and rinsed

For Dressing
1 1/2 cups fat free sour cream
one 7-ounce can diced green chilis
1 teaspoon chipotle peppers in adobo, diced
1 teaspoon dried cumin
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, plus extra for garnish if desired
juice of 1 lime
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat the grill to high. Spray each side of the chicken breasts with cooking spray and lightly season each side with salt and pepper.
2. Grill the chicken over direct heat, turning every 3 minutes until cooked through. Remove and allow to rest at least 5 minutes. Grill the corn over direct heat, turning every 3 minutes until lightly charred on each side. Grill the halves of bell pepper over indirect heat, 3 minutes per side.
3. Chop the cooked chicken into bite-sized pieces. Cut the top off of each ear of corn to create a flat edge. Stand the ear up on this edge, and, using a large serrated knife, carve the kernels off of the cob. Coarsely chop the bell pepper.
4. For the dressing, combine all dressing ingredients in a small bowl and mix until well incorporated.
5. Arrange the desired amount of mixed greens on a plate or salad bowl, and top with approximately 2 tablespoons (or desired amount) of each the black beans, corn kernels, and bell pepper. Spoon desired amount of dressing over the salad and top with chicken.


  1. Oh, this looks heavenly!!! I can't wait till we get some local corn...I will grill it and make your wonderful salad!

  2. Everything tastes better grilled, and that dressing sounds really good.....great recipe and post!

  3. The dressing sounds amazing... but you had me at the picture of the grilled corn. Love it!

  4. Yum-I love to have big salads at dinnertime-especially if they are chock full of all these ingredients. Great post!

  5. What a beautiful salad! And I just love the versatility - but honestly, I like everything about it, so I probably wouldn't change a thing =)


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