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Grilled Chicken Mexicali Salad with Roasted Red Pepper Dressing

Updated: Aug 7, 2021

Looking for a new, yummy salad recipe to keep you cool during these hot summer nights? This top-notch, restaurant-style salad is a knockout! Perfectly grilled and juicy cilantro lime chicken, grilled corn off the cob, sweet cherry tomatoes, black olives, green onion, diced avocado, black beans, and crispy tortilla strips are served atop a bed of chopped arugula, romaine, and baby spinach. The cool and creamy roasted red pepper dressing is the perfect finish for this superb salad.


Beware! After you make this flavor-packed salad once, you will crave it all the time.

Last week we had one of those miserable, humid streaks in St. Louis where the actual temperature was 95+ degrees but the crazy "feels like" temperature was 100+. Those are the days I don't feel much like cooking or eating a big meal. On those days, I crave something light and fresh that doesn't require me to spend a lot of time in the kitchen in front of a hot stove. I knew just the thing.


I like a salad with a lot of stuff. That's why this is probably my new favorite salad to make and eat. I have made several variations, but this version is by far my favorite. I think what makes this version extra special is the cool, creamy roasted red pepper dressing. It's smoky and flavor-packed with just the right amount of heat. It pairs perfectly with all the yummy fixings that I love about tacos but in salad form.


To get started, you will need to marinate the chicken. I usually do this several hours before I am ready to grill it. In a large zipper bag, combine 1 1/2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breast, 1/4 cup olive oil, juice of 2 limes, 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic, 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, 1/3 cup fresh chopped cilantro, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Seal the bag and toss gently to mix the contents and coat the chicken. Place the bag on a plate and place in the fridge for 2 to 3 hours.


For the roasted red pepper dressing: In the bowl of a food processor, add 8 ounces of plain Greek yogurt (I used dairy-free), 1/4 cup mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 whole roasted red pepper (in a jar), 1 large clove of garlic, juice on half a lime, 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (you can use 1/4 teaspoon if you like it spicier), 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Turn the food processor on and process the mixture until smooth. Stir and season with more salt and pepper, if desired. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use. You make this dressing up to 2 days in advance.


To grill the chicken: Preheat the grill until hot. Spray the grates with nonstick cooking spray and grill 7 to 9 minutes per side until no longer pink. Place the cooked chicken on a platter and cover with foil and let rest while you grill the corn. Once the chicken has cooled, thinly slice each breast on an angle and return the slices to the plate. This will allow the chicken to reabsorb the cooking juices while it rests, which will keep the chicken moist and juicy.


To grill the corn: Lightly oil the ears of corn with olive oil and place on the grate. Don't salt the corn until after cooking. This will keep your corn tender. Grill for about 5 to 7 minutes per side until the corn has softened and it has nice grill marks. Set aside to cool.


To make the tortilla strips: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut 4 flour tortillas into thin strips. I used a pizza cutter for this, but you can also use a sharp knife. Next, spray the tortilla strips lightly with olive oil cooking spray. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt and toss gently to evenly coat. Bake for 4 to 7 minutes or until the tortilla strips are lightly browned and crispy. Be sure to watch them closely, as they will burn easily. Set aside to cool.


To assemble the salad: Roughly chop the spinach, arugula, and romaine on a large cutting board and place in a large serving bowl. Add the halved tomatoes, sliced black olives, sliced green onions, chopped cilantro, diced avocados, and corn that has been removed from the cob (see Pro tip below). Next, drain the black beans and rinse with cold water. Drain well and add to the salad. Finally, top the salad with grilled, sliced chicken and tortilla strips and serve with the roasted red pepper dressing.


The bright, beautiful colors of this salad are summer in a bowl, friends. Eat up!


Let’s get cooking!

 

Ingredients


Chicken:

  • 1 1/2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breast

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • Juice of 2 limes

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic

  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

  • 1/3 cup fresh chopped cilantro

  • 1 teaspoon of salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon of pepper

Corn:

  • 4 ears of corn

  • Olive oil for grilling

Dressing:

  • 8 ounces of plain Greek yogurt (I used Kite Hill, Plain, Unsweetened Greek Style Almond Milk Yogurt)

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 whole roasted red pepper (I used Delallo Roasted Red Peppers in Water)

  • 1 large clove of garlic

  • Juice of half a lime

  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (you can use 1/4 teaspoon if you like it spicier)

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon of pepper

Tortilla strips:

  • 4 burrito-size flour tortillas (I used Mission Gluten-Free Original Wrap), cut into strips

  • Olive oil cooking spray

  • Coarse sea salt

Salad:

  • 1 5-ounce container spinach and arugula mix, chopped

  • 1 6-ounce bag romaine, chopped

  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half

  • 1 6.5-ounce can black olives, sliced

  • 4 green onions, sliced

  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

  • 2 ripe avocados, diced, then topped with juice from 1lime

  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed

 

How to make:


Chicken:

  1. In a large zipper bag, insert the 1 1/2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breast.

  2. Add 1/4 cup olive oil, juice of 2 limes, 1.5 tablespoons minced garlic, 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, 1/3 cup fresh chopped cilantro, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.

  3. Seal the bag.

  4. Toss gently to mix the contents and coat the chicken.

  5. Place the bag on a plate and place in the fridge for 2 to 3 hours.

To grill the chicken:

  1. Preheat the grill until hot.

  2. Spray the grates with non-stick cooking spray.

  3. Grill 7 to 9 minutes per side until no longer pink or until the internal temperature is 170 degrees.

  4. Place the cooked chicken on a platter and cover with foil and let rest while you grill the corn.

  5. Once the chicken has cooled, thinly slice each breast on an angle and return the slices to the plate.

Corn:

  • Lightly oil the ears of corn with olive oil and place on the grate.

  • Grill for about 5 to 7 minutes per side until the corn has softened and it has nice grill marks.

  • Set aside to cool.

  • Set Pro tip below for removing corn from the cob.

Dressing:

  1. In a bowl of a food processor, add 8 ounces of plain Greek yogurt, 1/4 cup mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 whole roasted red pepper, 1 large clove of garlic, juice of half a lime, 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.

  2. Turn the food processor on and process the mixture until smooth.

  3. Stir and season with more salt and pepper, if desired.

  4. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Tortilla strips:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

  2. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper

  3. Cut 4 flour tortillas into thin strips.

  4. Spray the tortilla strips lightly with olive oil cooking spray

  5. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt.

  6. Toss evenly coat.

  7. Bake for 4 to 7 minutes until or until the tortilla strips are lightly browned and crispy.

  8. Set aside to cool

Salad:

  1. Roughly chop the spinach, arugula, and romaine on a large cutting board and place in a large serving bowl.

  2. Add the halved tomatoes, sliced black olives, sliced green onions, chopped cilantro, diced avocados, and corn that has been removed from the cob (see Pro tip below).

  3. Next, drain the black beans and rinse with cold water. Drain well and add to the salad.

  4. Top the salad with grilled, sliced chicken and tortilla strips and serve with the roasted red pepper dressing. Enjoy!

  5. Please scroll to the bottom to share your comments and feedback.

Pro tip

For the corn: Place a small bowl upside down in the center of a larger bowl or plate. You want the inside bowl to fill the center but still have a few inches on each side. Cut off one end of the corn. Place cut side down in the center of the middle bowl so your ear is standing up on one end.


Hold the top of the corn with one hand while you cut the corn from the cob with a sharp knife. The corn will fall into the larger bowl. No mess!


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