There are two types of salads in the world, you know.
Some are simple, light, and healthy. They’re sort that are loaded up with greens and drizzled with a light vinaigrette; the sort that leaves you the tiniest bit hungry, but in a good way; the sort that you eat at the end of the week because you’ve feigned ignorance to the existence of calories and literally have eaten Pimento Beer Cheese for every meal are desperately trying to redeem yourself by upping your veggie consumption.
That sort of salad is the salad that I meant to make.
But then there’s also the sort of salad that starts off innocently enough– a couple of heads of chopped romaine for the base, some chicken breasts for protein, maybe even a tomato or two thrown in– but then one mix-in leads to another and the next thing you know, you have a behemoth of a meal in front of you and you quite frankly could not be more giddy about it. And what do you know, you’ve suddenly forgotten about those pesky little calo-whatever-they’re-called-ies again.
This Southwestern Chicken Cobb Salad with Jalapeño Buttermilk Ranch falls, completely unregrettably, into that category.
Is admitting that Southwestern Chicken Cobb Salad isn’t exactly a dieter’s dream a poor choice in promoting this recipe to you? Wait, wait! If you were about to click away, let me instead redirect your attention to my beautiful new best friend above. Yes, that’s homemade buttermilk ranch dressing that uses pickled jalapeño peppers for heat and has a generous amount of cilantro mixed in. Yes, it does taste as good as it looks. Actually, I’d venture to say that it tastes even better, but you’ll have to try it for yourself and be the judge of that.
You know you want to taste it.
You really do.
The Jalapeño Buttermilk Ranch Dressing, by the way, is not melt-your-face spicy. Despite how much of a chilehead that I fully admit that I am, I want my salads to be cool and refreshing, not fiery and tear-inducing. For that reason, I decided to opt for pickled jalapeño peppers rather than fresh in the dressing, which are much milder and have much more discernible flavor than just hot. It works perfectly with the Southwestern salad ingredients, and saving some extra dressing for dipping veggies in or slathering sandwiches with the next day never hurt anyone.
Speaking of the Southwestern ingredients, I’ve got to talk about that chicken breast. It’s marinated in a mixture of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, fresh garlic, adobo sauce, oregano, paprika, cumin, and salt and pepper, and it is OUT OF THIS WORLD. Like, the best grilled chicken I’ve ever had in a salad, actually. Keep that marinade in mind whenever you’re thinking about cooking up a juicy chicken breast or two.
And I haven’t even touched on the other ingredients yet! There’s sweet black beans, creamy avocado slices, grilled fresh corn, spiced tortilla strips, chopped red onion, crispy bacon crumbles, sliced hard boiled egg, cheddar jack cheese, and juicy cherry tomatoes underneath that glorious ranch dressing, too. You can make it your own by switching up the ingredients if you’d like, but this combo is what wooed James into dubbing this salad “The Best Salad He’s Ever Eaten”.
We eat a surprising amount of salad in between all of the taste testing for recipe posts, by the way, so that’s truly saying a lot.
But again, don’t take our word for it. You’ve got to make this one yourself and see what I’m over here gushing about. And when you do make Southwestern Chicken Cobb Salad with Jalapeño Buttermilk Ranch, don’t forget to snap a quick picture of it before you dig in. Tag it with #hostthetoast on Instagram or Twitter so I can check out just how tasty yours looks.
For the Southwestern Grilled Chicken:
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 minced garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon adobo from canned chipotles in adobo
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
For the Jalapeno Buttermilk Ranch:
- 1/2 cup good-quality mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons chopped pickled jalapenos plus 2 teaspoons pickling juice, or to taste
- 1/4 cup fresh minced cilantro
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh minced dill (or 1/2 teaspoon dried dill)
- 1 bunch minced chives
- 2 cloves garlic
- Kosher salt and back pepper, to taste
For the Southwestern Salad:
- 2 heads romaine lettuce
- 1/2 cup black beans
- 2 ears grilled corn
- 3 hard boiled eggs, sliced
- 6–8 cherry tomatoes
- 1 small avocado, peeled, pitted, and thinly sliced
- 6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 2 ounces cheddar jack cheese
- 1/2 cup tortilla strips
- In a large sealable plastic bag, combine the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, adobo, oregano, paprika, cumin, and salt and pepper for the chicken marinade. Mix well and add in the chicken breasts. Seal the bag and work the marinade around the chicken. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until ready to cook.
- As the chicken marinates, make the ranch dressing. Combine the dressing ingredients in the bowl of a food processor or in a large bowl, and pulse or mix until even. Taste and adjust jalapeno and seasonings as desired. Transfer to a large container, cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Heat the grill pan over medium-high heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade, allowing excess to drip off. Place on the grill pan and reduce the heat to medium. Cook for 5 minutes, flip, and cook for an additional 5-7 minutes, or until no pink remains inside. Set the chicken aside to cool slightly.
- Assemble the salad ingredients in rows over the chopped romaine lettuce. Slice the chicken and place over the salad. Serve immediately with the ranch dressing.