Back before I was gluten free, I used to make a southwest chicken salad that I liked. I was a vegetarian then so I really did not use chicken, but instead I made the salad with “chicken” (Quorn Chik’n Tenders to be exact) and thought it was so damned delicious. I guess at the time it was, but now, after years of cooking knowledge and experience (and a much more refined palate) I wanted to recreate that meal using real ingredients, make it gluten and dairy free and impart much more flavor than I remember the original salad having.
For the most part, the salad was always gluten free, but not dairy free. Technically, Quorn products have the “made in a facility that processes wheat” warning so I don’t consider the Chik’n Tenders to be gluten free. Regardless, I set out to make a flavor-packed salad and I was very, very pleased that I surpassed my own expectations (which are generally so high, no sane person could live up to them, but that’s a window into my pscyhe that I probably should not open up right now!).
When I made the Southwest Fiesta Chicken salad the other night, my goal was to test the recipe (it was completely from my head and I had to make sure I could extract things in a logical and tasty order!), decide on ingredients and cooking techniques and begin to write down measurements so that I could write it out as an executable recipe. The main aspect of the old salad that I remembered was that I would marinate the corn, black beans and “chicken” in lime and cumin. With that in mind, I set off to create the salad.
Every step of the recipe infused strong Southwest flavors such as cumin, lime and cilantro into the ingredients. I was a little concerned that I would be adding way too many flavors throughout the various steps and when all the components came together, the composed salad would either too zesty or too heavy on one flavor. Well, I am happy to say I should never have been concerned. It was so bright and flavorful and you could taste all the ingredients I put into it. I was in awe of my accomplishment with every bite I put in my mouth. Rich and Dawson loved it too.
I cannot wait to share this recipe with you. In the next couple weeks, I am going put this recipe in “making food for the blog” mode (which basically means I follow a recipe exactly instead of creating as I cook and take lots and lots of photos and notes as I go) and get it up here on the site. Then everyone can have a Southwest Fiesta!!