The College Housewife » Recipes » Salad » Southwest Chopped Salad

Southwest Chopped Salad

Here is an incredibly delectable Southwest Chopped Salad with the right balance of heat, sweet, crunch, crisp and tender vegetables. Tossed with a creamy chipotle lime dressing and finished with taco seasoned chicken, this is an entree salad recipe best served with extra dressing to go around.

two bowls of southwestern salad recipe with gold fork

 

 

Why you’ll love this salad with cilantro dressing

Crisp and crunchy! I love a salad I can really dig into and this one sure hits the spot. Just like chopped tostada salad, kale Caesar chopped salad and Mexican kale Caesar salad, this is a super satisfying salad that will leave you full and satisfied. It’s balanced with just the right amount of fresh crisp vegetables, protein-packed chicken, spicy chipotle lime dressing, hearty black beans and crunchy tortilla chips.

The Mexican dressing is the star! Fresh vibrant vegetables are beautiful, but I find what really makes a salad craveable is the dressing — and this one does not disappoint. You get a hint of heat, sweet, tang and creaminess with basic pantry ingredients you probably already have on hand. Give it a quick whiz in the food processor and serve extra on the side along with some deconstructed guacamole.

Channel your inner Trader Joe’s! I have to admit — this salad was actually inspired by a recent trip to Trader Joe’s. You know those southwestern chopped salad kits you can buy in the prepared produce section. Yea, this is like that, but with the volume turn wayyy up! The vegetables are crisper, the dressing creamier and the smile on everyone’s faces is much brighter! 🙂

southwest chopped salad with chipotle lime dressing in large blue bowl

 

Ingredients

The ingredients for this chopped southwestern salad come in three parts – the dressing, chicken breasts and salad. Here’s a look at what we need:

Chipotle Dressing

  • Chipotle in adobo sauce
  • Greek yogurt
  • Mayonnaise
  • Garlic powder
  • Honey
  • Fresh lime juice
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Water

Chicken Breasts

  • Chicken breasts
  • Taco seasoning
  • Lime juice
  • Olive oil

Salad

  • Romaine lettuce
  • Cucumber
  • Red bell pepper
  • Jalapeno
  • Cilantro
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Black beans
  • Corn
  • Roasted pepitas
  • Cotija cheese
  • Tortilla chips
  • Avocado
  • Limes

Ingredient substitutions and notes

  • Use your favorite store-bought brand of taco seasoning for the chicken — or make your own!
  • Swap out the romaine for tender green or red leaf lettuce instead
  • Pinto beans would be just as delicious as black beans
  • Cilantro in salad is a total game-changer, but you can omit it if you’re not a fan or replace it with fresh parsley
  • I used canned corn that I rinsed and drained, but feel free to use canned fire-roasted corn, thawed frozen corn or fresh, blanched summer corn when in season
  • If you can’t find cotija at the grocery store, queso blanco or feta cheese are great subs

 

Scroll below for the ingredient measurements and recipe card.

two bowls of southwestern salad recipe with gold fork

How to make

This recipe for southwest salad requires a few different prep and cooking bits. I like to start with the dressing and then get the chicken in the oven while I prep the fresh veggies so that everything is ready at the same time.

  1. Make the dressing: In a food processor, blend together chipotles in adobo sauce, Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, garlic powder, honey, lime juice, olive oil and salt together until smooth. Stream in water to thin the dressing out a bit. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to top salads.
  2. Bake chicken breasts: Preheat the oven to 400 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Rub chicken breasts with an even layer of taco seasoning, lime juice and olive oil. Place onto a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the inside of the chicken breast reaches 165 F. Set aside to rest and prepare the salad. 
  3. Assemble salad: In a large bowl, mix together romaine lettuce, cucumber, bell pepper, jalapeno, cilantro, cherry tomatoes, black beans, corn, pepitas, cotija cheese and half of the tortilla chips. Add ½ cup dressing and mix together until tossed and coated. Serve remaining dressing on the side for drizzling. 
  4. Top salad bowls: Finish each serving with remaining chip crumbles, sliced avocado, extra cilantro sprigs and a wedge of lime. Slice or dice the cooked chicken breasts and serve on top or on the side of the salads.

four step grid prepping Mexican southwest salad

 

Serving suggestions

  • Dressing: The dressing recipe makes enough to evenly toss the salad and have extra on the side for serving.
  • Toppings: Serve with fresh sliced avocado, extra cilantro, lime wedges and plenty of crushed tortilla strips.
  • Lunch or Dinner: Enjoy this as a light lunch or dinner any day of the week.
  • Picnic, Party, Potluck: Make this salad for your next party — it’s a sure crowd pleaser — and make sure to bring some Mexican fruit salad along with it!

Meal prep and storage instructions

Prep the dressing, chicken and salad ingredients and store them all in separate airtight containers in the fridge. Toss them all together in a bowl just before serving. This helps keep the veggies fresh and crisp.

gold fork digging into large bowl of southwest salad

 

Recipe tips:

  • Thin the dressing to your desired consistency: Add the water 1 tablespoon at a time. The quantity of water will vary depending on if you want a thicker or thinner dressing.
  • Balance the heat level: Add more honey to the dressing to make it a little sweeter and/or remove the seeds from the jalapeno for a mild flavor.

Looking for more salad recipes? Check these out!

If you make this Southwest Chopped Salad recipe, be sure to tag me on Pinterest and Instagram!

I seriously love seeing what you guys are making and sharing your creations with the College Housewife community!

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two bowls of southwestern salad recipe with gold fork

Southwest Chopped Salad

  • Author: Elizabeth Van Lierde
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Lunch, Dinner
  • Method: Food Processor, Oven
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

Here is an incredibly delectable Southwest Chopped Salad with the right balance of heat, sweet, crunch, crisp and tender vegetables. Tossed with a creamy chipotle lime dressing and finished with taco seasoned chicken, this is an entree salad recipe best served with extra dressing to go around.


Ingredients

Scale

Dressing:

2 tbsp chipotle in adobo sauce

½ cup Greek yogurt

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1 tsp garlic powder

12 tsp honey

1 tbsp fresh lime juice

1 tsp olive oil

Pinch of Kosher salt

4 tbsp water

Chicken Breasts:

23 chicken breasts

2 tbsp taco seasoning, store-bought or homemade

Juice from ½ lime

2 tsp olive oil

Salad:

8 cups finely chopped romaine lettuce, about 1 large head

½ cucumber, finely diced

1 red bell pepper, finely diced

1 jalapeno, finely diced (remove seeds for less spice)

1 handful cilantro, finely chopped + more for garnish

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1 cup black beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup corn, drained and rinsed

½ cup roasted pepitas

⅓ cup crumbled cotija cheese

1 cup crumbled tortilla chips

1 avocado, sliced (¼ per salad)

Limes, for garnish


Instructions

  1. Make the dressing: In a food processor, blend together chipotles in adobo sauce, Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, garlic powder, honey, lime juice, olive oil and salt together until smooth. Stream in water to thin the dressing out a bit. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to top salads.
  2. Bake chicken breasts: Preheat the oven to 400 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Rub chicken breasts with an even layer of taco seasoning, lime juice and olive oil. Place onto a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the inside of the chicken breast reaches 165 F. Set aside to rest and prepare the salad. 
  3. Assemble salad: In a large bowl, mix together romaine lettuce, cucumber, bell pepper, jalapeno, cilantro, cherry tomatoes, black beans, corn, pepitas, cotija cheese and half of the tortilla chips. Add ½ cup dressing and mix together until tossed and coated. Serve remaining dressing on the side for drizzling. 
  4. Top salad bowls: Finish each serving with remaining chip crumbles, sliced avocado, extra cilantro sprigs and a wedge of lime. Slice or dice the cooked chicken breasts and serve on top or on the side of the salads.

Notes

Prep the dressing, chicken and salad ingredients and store them all in separate airtight containers in the fridge.

Keywords: cilantro, lime, lettuce

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