Protein Packed Southwestern Salad

I am keeping with my healthy kick of Mexican Monday (previous weeks included Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers and Turkey Lettuce Wraps) with a double duty Mexican Monday & Salad Night.

It’s been way too long since my last salad post – and unfortunately that also indicates it’s been way too long since our last salad night! Stuart has been looking for healthier meals lately, and after eating this Southwestern Salad he was completely satisfied.

The dressing for the salad is made with Greek yogurt. If you’ve paid attention, or know me, you realize that I have a great dislike for Greek yogurt. But I do try and give it another chance every now and then. I was prepared to revert to bottled salad dressing, but I’m happy to state that I loved the creamy cilantro vinaigrette!

I added chicken to the salad so we’re getting 3 sources of protein: the Greek yogurt in the dressing, chicken, and black beans! I promise this is no rabbit food.

Protein Packed Southwestern Salad

Ingredients for the chicken:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken tenders (you can also cut up 1 breast into strips)
  • 3/4 tsp Adobo seasoning
  • 1 tsp Ancho chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, divided use
  • 1 head iceberg lettuce
  • 1/2 C canned corn, drained
  • 1/2 C canned black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 on-the-vine tomato, chopped and seeds removed
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • crispy tortilla strips, for topping

Ingredients for the dressing:

  • 1/2 C Greek yogurt
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 C fresh cilantro
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 C extra virgin olive oil
  • salt, to taste

Steps:

  1. In a small bowl combine adobo seasoning, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Season both sides of chicken with spice mixture (you will have some left over).
  2. In a medium skillet heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Cook chicken 4-5 minutes on each side, until cooked through.
  3. In a food processor combine all dressing ingredients.
  4. Assemble salad with lettuce, corn, beans, tomato, avocado, and chicken. Toss with as much dressing as you like. Top with tortilla strips.

*This recipe is adapted from Chung-Ah at http://damndelicious.net/2014/01/10/southwestern-chopped-salad-cilantro-lime-dressing/*

Protein Packed Southwestern Salad 1 Protein Packed Southwestern Salad  2 Protein Packed Southwestern Salad 3

Red Pepper Pesto Crusted Tilapia

My dream job would be to host my own show on Food Network. I know I have a long way to go and it’s something that will most likely never happen, but hey, that’s why it’s called a dream job.

Every year I watch Next Food Network Star. Spoiler Alert – I am very excited for this summer’s winner, Damaris, and her show this fall but I was drawn to Nikki Dinki from day one. This recipe, is one of hers. It’s very quick and simple to prepare and tastes incredible. I do not like Greek yogurt – I am not on the bandwagon – but I didn’t want to stray from Nikki’s recipe (I did have to switch the fish based on local availability though) so I gave it another shot. The Greek yogurt complimented the red pepper pesto perfectly. Mixing the panko with the pesto also provided a beautiful crust on top of the fish. I promise you this is a new staple in my kitchen.

Pesto Crusted Fish

Red Pepper Pesto Crusted Tilapia

Ingredients:

  • 2 roasted red peppers
  • 1/4 C pine nuts
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 shallot, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 C parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 C olive oil
  • 4 4oz tilapia filets
  • 1 C panko
  • 4 tbsp Greek yogurt

Steps:

  1. Make pesto: combine peppers, nuts, thyme, garlic, shallot, cheese, and olive oil in a food processor.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  3. Season fish with salt and pepper. Spread 1 tbsp of yogurt on each filet.
  4. Mix 1/2 C pesto from step 1 with the bread crumbs. (Or you could use store bought jarred red pepper pesto instead) Press onto each filet. Bake 20 minutes on a foil lined baking sheet.

*Both recipes are adapted from Nikki at http://www.nikkidinkicooking.com/home/red-pepper-pesto.html and http://www.nikkidinkicooking.com/home/pesto-crusted-halibut-grape-risotto.html*

Red Pepper Pesto Crusted Tilapia