Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Chicken Taco Salads with Tomatillo Salsa

Turn taco night into a lighter, tastier—and more healthful—dinner with lean chicken breast, a zesty fresh salsa, plenty of nutritious veggies, and crunchy baked tortilla strips instead of taco shells.

The salsa verde in this recipe is so simple and so good—easy too. Combine the ingredients in a bowl (or food processor) and give the salsa about 20 minutes to rest and blend flavors. As much as I like fresh tomato-based salsas, sometimes the all-green variety adds just the right bright, floral freshness to whatever it’s paired with.

Salsa Verde Ingredients
Note: If you like a thick, chunky salsa, simply chop the ingredients and combine them in a bowl. For a thinner, juicier dish, place the ingredients in a food processor and pulse to your desired consistency.

If you use canned black beans and canned or frozen corn (as I have for this recipe), go organic, if you can. Nothing beats beans from scratch or kernels straight from the cob, but sometimes schedules (and seasons) call for ready-made. Organic canned can’t replace fresh, but it’s better than the regular alternative.

Serves 4


For the Salsa
  • 8 tomatillos, husked and chopped
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 2 small jalapenos, thinly sliced crosswise (seeded for less heat) 
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • sea salt 
For the Tacos
  • 4 6-inch flour tortillas, cut into thin 1-inch strips
  • sea salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 3/4 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked and shredded (about 2-1/2 cups)
  • 3/4 cup canned organic black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 cup canned organic whole-kernel sweet corn, drained and rinsed
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 cups chopped escarole (or romaine lettuce)
  • plain Greek yogurt and coarsely shredded Mexican cheese blend, for serving (optional)
Go Organic 

For the Salsa
  1. Combine the first 6 ingredients (through lime juice) in a medium bowl and season with salt. Set aside for 20 minutes. (Alternatively, pulse the ingredients in a food processor for a thinner salsa.)
Chopped Salsa Ingredients 
Salsa Verde after Processing 
For the Tacos
  1. Preheat the oven to 375° F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the tortilla strips on it. Bake until golden and beginning to crisp, 5-6 minutes. Sprinkle lightly with salt and transfer to a bowl or plate.
Tortilla Strips Ready to Bake 
Baked Tortilla Strips
  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the bell pepper and garlic and cook until softened, 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add the cooked chicken, beans, corn, chipotle pepper, and broth and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring to combine, 5-6 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool 10 minutes. (The liquid will be absorbed while cooling.)
Pepper and Garlic
Chicken Mixture
To serve, divide the greens among 4 shallow bowls. Top with the chicken mixture, salsa, and tortilla strips. Spoon a dollop of yogurt on each and sprinkle with cheese, if desired.

Chicken Taco Salads with Tomatillo Salsa

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