Friday, February 11, 2011

Quesadilla Salad

Last summer or fall, the girls and I spent a day shopping with my Mother-in-law. Now, usually a shopping day with my girls means lunch at St. Louis Bread Co. (Panera for you non-locals). However, since my Mother-in-law was along for the ride I took the opportunity to insist that we dine in a restaurant with a 'real' waitstaff; where we wouldn't have to carry our food on trays or bus our tables afterwards. We chose Chili's because of location, location, location - it was directly in our path of intended stores.

That day, I enjoyed Chili's Quesadilla Explosion salad, marveling at how something that seemed so simple could be so darn tasty...and then couldn't get it out of my mind. So, I made up my own recipe.

You'll need lettuce. The first time I made this I used Iceberg. However, I've recently discovered Romaine hearts and love that one will make enough dinner salad for the five of us and the other two in the package will stay fresh longer than other washed lettuce or greens. I don't know why that is - I just know I'm throwing less rotten greens away and we're eating salad just as frequently, if not more frequently than before.

So, lettuce. Also, a diced tomato, and crunchy tortilla strip salad toppings. Chili's used a "citrus balsamic" dressing. I found spicy ranch dressing and called it done.

You'll also need some cooked chicken (about 2 cups), canned corn, and canned black beans. On my restaurant salad, my chicken was warm...when making the salad at home it just felt right to warm up the corn and beans as well. I used a small (8oz or so) can of corn, and about 8oz of the black beans as well. For the chicken, everything from leftover rotisserie chicken to the Hormel pre-cooked chicken strips work great.
Tortillas and cheddar and/or Monterrey jack cheese make swell cheese quesadillas to accompany the salad.

As long as the chicken is pre-cooked, this is a really easy dish to prepare. The girls have no interest in it whatsoever...beans, tomatoes...corn on a salad? Which just means Rob and I don't have to share.
If I have cilantro, I add that to the finished dish as well. This particular night I did not have any, which is sad because I really love cilantro.

I think it would also be good with a little red onion, or maybe some chopped avocado...or perhaps just guacamole on the side.
The best part, is that using the amounts that I do and splitting it between two of us (which is plenty, I assure you), the salad is about 800 calories less than the restaurant version.
Tasty, tasty.

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