A week or two ago I made a big batch of these salads, inspired by the Santa Fe Kickin’ Chicken Salad at a local restaurant, and they were so good! I mean, it’s a salad served on a bed of tortilla chips and topped with a super flavorful ranch dressing, so you can’t really go wrong. Plus, I made enough for my husband and I to have them for lunch for a few days.
This salad has a lot of different components, so I chose to buy prepared guacamole, pico de gallo, ranch dressing, and taco seasoning. You can make as much of it from scratch as you’d like and leave out anything you don’t like.
For the Chicken
1-1/2 pounds chicken breasts
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil (or enough of your preferred oil for you to coat the bottom of your pan)
1/2 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
For the Salad Dressing (or you can just by taco flavored ranch dressing)
1 cup of ranch salad dressing
1-2 tablespoons of taco seasoning
For the Salad:
3 heads romaine lettuce, chopped into 1 inch pieces
Pico de Gallo
Diced bell peppers (or I like to use halved mini bell peppers to scoop the pico and guac)
For the Chicken
Combine chili powder, cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper. Coat each chicken breast with the spice blend. Heat oil in a pan over medium. Cook chicken about 7 minutes on one side, then flip and finish cooking on the other side (I always use a meat thermometer to ensure chicken reaches 165*F). Top each breast with shredded pepper jack cheese, top the pan with a lid, and remove from heat, and let sit, covered, until the cheese melts.
For the Dressing
Stir taco seasoning into the ranch dressing. I like to do this by putting them in a mason jar and shaking them until thoroughly combined, then whatever is left I can just store in the jar.
To Build the Salad (add amounts of each to your taste)
Start with a base of tortilla chips in the bottom of your bowl.
Add lettuce tossed to your liking with the taco ranch dressing.
Slice the chicken into strips and add them to the bowl.
Top with bell peppers, pico de gallo, guacamole, and more dressing and cheese, if desired.