This Southern Grilled Chicken Meal Salad is totally satisfying as a meal. Satisfying in the sense of filling, flavor, texture and color variety. It is also satisfying to know that is is a healthy salad. Last but not least it is relatively quick to make; while the chicken is grilling, you have time to clean and cut all the other ingredients.
A salad like this is a healthy meal, any time of year, because all ingredients are basically always available: green lettuce, chicken, avocado, tomatoes, mozzarella, black beans, and pecans. Serve this salad with your favorite corn bread and this Southern Grilled Chicken Meal Salad is more than complete.
SOUTHERN GRILLED CHICKEN MEAL SALAD
Key Ingredients in This Recipe
You can make this salad in less than 30 minutes, as most cleaning and cutting can be done while you cook or grill the chicken breast.
- Chicken breast – The main protein source of this recipe. Lean protein that is.
- Boston lettuce – Also called butter lettuce or Bibb lettuce. I count this type of lettuce among my favorites. It is delicate, yet flavorful, but not overwhelming in flavor, and certainly more than just a green crunch. Because of it’s ‘buttery’ characteristics (I know that sounds strange to say this about lettuce, but believe me Boston lettuce’s leaves melt in your mouth) you use it for every salad.
- Black beans – Another great protein source in this recipe and this is of course vegetable protein. Also high in fiber and some key minerals and vitamins.
- Tomatoes – Tomatoes, small and large add some color, add juice and sweetness and the necessary anti-oxidants.
- Avocados – A loved ingredients and considered a powerhouse superfood. Avocados contain healthy fats, fibers, antioxidants, and lots of vitamins and minerals. Let’s not forget that avocados are delicious and add a creaminess to this salad.
- Mozzarella – I love cheese, so that’s often an ingredient in my salads. I consider Mozzarella an ‘innocent’ cheese, meaning: not too much flavor, but a pleasant mouthfeel and good looks.
- Pecans – An all-American tree-nut, rich and buttery in flavor.
How to make Southern Grilled Chicken Meal Salad
I often wonder if creating a salad is creating a recipe. I guess on the one hand it is, as it is the choice of the ingredients that will make the end result worth eating and sharing. On the other hand, most salads are all about cleaning and cutting the various ingredients and then tossing them together and drizzle them with a dressing, if the latter is even needed.
In this case, I can recommend a few steps that will indeed keep the making of this recipe within 30 minutes.
- Season the chicken breast – Use salt, pepper, cumin, coriander, chili pepper and brown sugar. After cooking the chicken will be deliciously seasoned with a crust from the sugar. In order to cook the chicken faster you can pound on the chicken breast with a meat hammer or rolling pin and create thinner piece that cooks faster.
- Drain and rinse the black beans – The liquid you find in canned beans is a mixture of water and salt, along with starches naturally produced by the beans. Nothing weird, so rinsing the beans is not must, but I prefer to do it anyway. Don’t need that additional salt and starch.
- Wash and cut the tomatoes and lettuce – Cut small tomatoes in half and tear or cut lettuce in smaller pieces.
- Cut and slice the avocado – Slice slowly down the center lengthwise around the seed, twist and rotate the 2 halves apart. Use your knife and tap the pit, give it a small twist and the pit will come out. (Be careful here, if the knife is not secure in the pit it may pot out while you twist the avocado and may cut the mousse of your hand). A saver way is to slice the avocado into wedges around the pit, and separate the wedges from the pit instead of removing the pit from an avocado half. Slice the avocado lengthwise or cut it in cubes.
- Cut, slice or cube the mozzarella – Depending on the type of mozzarella you use: pearl, ciliegine or bocconini, cut the cheese to a size of your liking.
- Make the dressing – Mix olive oil, honey, lime juice, Tabasco and spices and herbs.
- Arrange the salad on a plate – You can do this in 2 ways, mix all the salad ingredients and divide over the plates or arrange each individual ingredient on a plate.
- Cut the chicken and drizzle the dressing over the salad.
- Sprinkle with chopped pecans.
Alternatives and Substitutes
My husband and I eat this salad or some variety of it, on a regular basis. Having meals on repeat does not need to be boring, as you can make small changes.
- Chicken breast can be replaced by other parts of chicken or turkey, steak or tofu is you want to keep it vegetarian.
- Use any type of lettuce you like, a mix, romaine lettuce.
- Cheddar, parmigiano reggiano, or gouda can substitute the mozzarella.
- Any type of bean could qualify instead of black beans.
- Toasted pine nuts are a great nut for salads.
- Add a boiled egg or bell pepper
Other chicken salads to try are:
- Avocado Chicken Salad
- Chicken Arugula Salad with Grapes and Radishes
- Cobb Salad with Ranch Dressing
- Citrus Chicken and Greens Salad
Southern Grilled Chicken Meal Salad
- 8 ounces skinless boneless chicken breast
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 cups Boston lettuce butter or bibb lettuce or mixed salad greens
- 1 avocado
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes
- 1/2 cup black beans
- 4 ounces Mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 cup pecans
For the Dressing
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 2 drops tabasco sauce
- 1 teaspoon honey
- fresh cilantro basil
- salt and pepper
- Mix chili powder, sugar, coriander, cumin, salt and pepper and rub it into the chicken on both sides.
- Heat the oil in a grilling pan and grill the chicken on both sides until done. A total of about 8-10 minutes. Allow the chicken to rest before you cut it in thin slices.
- Was the lettuce and cut it into strips. Pit and peal the avocado and slice it. Wash the tomatoes and halve them.
- Rinse and drain the black beans.
- Rinse and drain the mozzarella and cut in half or more, depending on the size of mozzarella balls you have.
- Chop the pecan coarsely.
- Prepare the dressing by whisking oil, lime juice, Tabasco, honey, herbs and salt and pepper together.
- Divide the lettuce over 2 plates and arrange the chicken, avocado, tomatoes, mozzarella and black beans in top of the lettuce
- Drizzle the dressing over the salad and garnish with pecans.