Saturday, August 6, 2011

Grilled Chicken Salad with Rustic Guacamole, Romaine and Queso Anejo

It seems like forever that I've been away from my blog! Hello, blog...have you missed me? Two weekends ago I went to Tucson, AZ with some friend on a scrapbooking weekend retreat. The last time I really sat down and scrapbooked, I was nine months pregnant with my youngest son (who will be three in November). Yeah, it had been awhile. My house and family were somewhat neglected for probably two weeks leading up to said weekend while I went through years of pictures on my computer to get prints made, planned out what pages I needed/wanted to do, organized my supplies, etc. I had a fantastic time and ended up doing something like 30 pages and made an album for our Santa pictures, so it was definitely productive. Anyway, once I got home from that weekend I was excited to get back into the swing of my blog, but I had a couple weeks' worth of chores to catch up on, so the blog kind of fell to the wayside. Then this past week was Boy #1's last week of summer vacation (my baby is starting kindergarten on is that possible?!), so I was trying to cram in one on one time with him and do lots of fun stuff before he starts school.

So here it is Saturday night...the husband is out celebrating a friend's birthday, my kiddos are in bed, and I'm going to get caught up on blog posts. I have eight nine (forgot about the next Summer Drink Series beverage!) posts to do, which I'm guessing won't all get done tonight, but I'll slog my way through as many as I can. I had meant to start sooner, but I've recently discovered and have a tendency to get sucked into that since finding out about it.

Anyway, I had a hankering for some Rick Bayless recently while working on my menu plan, and I came across this salad. I'm all about salad in the summer because it's so ridiculously hot here. I knew I couldn't go wrong with something from the Mexican Everyday cookbook, and I was surprised at how many salads were in there!

Grilled Chicken Salad with Rustic Guacamole, Romaine and Queso Anejo
Source: Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless

½ cup vegetable or olive oil, plus a little more for onion
4 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
Fresh hot green chiles to taste (I like 2 serranos or 1 large jalapeno), stemmed and halved
½ cup fresh lime juice
¾ cup (loosely packed) cilantro, roughly chopped
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

4 medium (about 1¼ pounds total) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 medium white onion, cut into ½-half-inch slices
2 ripe avocados
8 cups romaine hearts, sliced crosswise at ½-inch thick
1/3 cup grated Mexican queso anejo or other garnishing cheese (Romano or Parmesan)

Heat oil in small skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and chiles; cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is soft and lightly browned (usually 1 to 2 minutes). Pour oil, garlic and chiles into blender jar or food processor. Add lime juice, cilantro, black pepper, and 1 scant teaspoon salt. Process garlic mixture until smooth.

Pour 1/3 of garlic mixture over chicken breasts, spreading it evenly over all sides.

Heat a grill pan or gas grill to medium to medium-high heat (or start a charcoal fire and let it burn until coals are medium hot and covered with white ash). Lightly brush or spray onion slices with oil; sprinkle with salt. Lay chicken and onion on grill pan or grill. Cook until chicken is just cooked through and onion is well browned (3 to 4 minutes on each side). Chop onion into small pieces and scoop into bowl. Set the chicken aside to cool.

Pit and peel avocados, scooping flesh into bowl with onion. Add another 1/3 of garlic mixture, then coarsely mash everything together with old-fashioned potato masher, large fork or back of spoon. Taste and season with salt (usually about ½ teaspoon).

Scoop the sliced romaine into large bowl. Drizzle on remaining 1/3 of garlic mixture and toss to combine. Divide between 4 dinner plates. Scoop a portion of guacamole into center of each plate. Cut each breast into cubes and arrange over guacamole. Sprinkle each plate with garnishing cheese. Serve.


I ended up doing mine a little differently. I had planned on making something different for dinner in the crockpot, but I realized it wasn't going to happen because I had forgotten to put what I needed into the crockpot. So I already had some cooked, shredded chicken on hand, so instead of grilling the chicken in the dressing, I just mixed some into my shredded chicken. I knew this wasn't something my kids would eat, so I only made half the guacamole called for. I loved using the dressing to flavor the guacamole, by the way.

The husband and I thought this was FANTASTIC. The dressing was fresh and spicy and wow! Having it on the chicken, mixed in the guacamole, and as dressing on the salad made sure that you always had some of its spicy kick on your bite. I will definitely make this salad again. Yum!

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