Table of Contents
Salads have been in the background for too long. Think about it: those salads from your childhood, replete with limp lettuce, tasteless vegetables, and gloppy dressing are no more. We’re too smart to eat boring salads as we’ve now realized they should be the main event. This bias could be from the fact that I eat a salad as a main meal almost daily. I’ll always cheer for bold fresh flavors to elevate the salad into a perfect meal. The best side effect: you can eat healthily and enjoy it!
A chicken fajita salad uses the best flavors from a fajita and is honestly easier to eat than the real thing. Stir-fried vegetables and chicken sit atop crisp lettuce with a full-on flavor bomb of a dressing. You will love this salad!
What is a fajita?
Traditionally, fajitas consist of strips of peppers, onions, and steak or chicken grilled or fried and served with tortillas. There are various methods and recipes, but the main ingredients usually stay the same. Just like in traditional fajitas, this starts with the meat. While steak may be more traditional, chicken breast is more foolproof and definitely a crowd-pleaser, especially for picky eaters.
After the meat marinates and cooks, the same skillet is used to quickly fry the peppers and onion. The vegetables pick up the bits of remaining flavor from the chicken and are finished with nontraditional beans. The beans add some heft to the salad and make it a rounded meal.
What is the difference between a marinade and a dressing?
- A marinade is a mixture of vinegar, oil, and spices. The mixture imparts some flavor but provides a better texture to the meat as it sits together in the refrigerator.
- A dressing is really the same as a marinade. The ratios may be different, but the results are almost identical.
So why even make a distinction? My point exactly! To add more flavor to the chicken, the dressing for this salad does double duty. First, it’s used as a marinade for the chicken breast. The lime juice in the dressing helps tenderize the chicken and add moisture. The remainder of the dressing provides a fresh punch to the salad and marries all the flavors!
Watch how to make this chicken fajita salad:
Chicken Fajita Salad
For the dressing
- ⅓ cup lime juice
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 2 ½ tbsp honey
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 jalapeño seeds removed
- 2 inches cilantro stems
- ½ cup neutral oil
- ½ tsp cumin
- 1 tsp salt
For the salad
- 2 chicken breasts (approx. 16 oz total) butterflied
- 1 small onion cut in half lengthwise and sliced
- 1 yellow pepper sliced
- 1 red pepper sliced
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp cumin
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- ½ jalapeño with seeds
- 1 15 oz can black beans drained and rinsed
- 1 avocado sliced
- 1 head crisp romaine
For the dressing
- In a measuring cup, combine the lime juice, mustard, honey, garlic, jalapeño, cilantro stems, oil, cumin, and salt. Blend with an immersion blender or upright blender until smooth.
- With a sharp knife, butterfly the chicken breast to flatten and make it more even. Pour ½ cup of the dressing over the chicken breast as a marinade. Cover and keep refrigerated for 30 minutes or up to 1 hour.
- Heat 1 tbsp neutral oil in a skillet over medium heat, 2 minutes. Add the marinated chicken breast, one at a time. Sear until browned and the temperature registers 160°F. Once the chicken has been cooked, add the prepared onion and peppers to the skillet. Sprinkle with salt and cumin. Sauté until the vegetables are just tender, 4-6 minutes. Add the minced jalapeño and garlic. Continue to cook for 1 minute. Add the drained and rinsed beans. Cook until the beans are just warmed through, 1-2 minutes.
- Remove the vegetables and beans from the heat. Slice the chicken into strips and squeeze some fresh lime juice over the meat and sliced avocado. Chop the romaine and place it on a large platter. Drizzle with the remaining dressing to taste, as little or as much as desired. Mix with the lettuce. Add the prepared peppers, onion, and beans. Top with chicken, avocado, and cilantro. Serve with tortilla chips on the side.