Here, the ubiquitous taco salad gets an update with the addition of a flavorful dressing made from creamy avocado.
A Healthy Take on Taco Salad
This Tex-Mex dish can veer into an overly-creamy, glorified nacho direction, but in this case it’s a fresh, flavorful salad. The crunch comes primarily from the romaine lettuce while the tortilla chips are used more like croutons, instead of a salad base. Fresh vegetables like corn and tomatoes shine alongside fiber-rich beans. Grilled chicken adds lean protein though, of course, no taco salad is complete without a bit of cheese! To top it all off, a creamy dressing made from avocado and low-fat buttermilk makes for a dish that only feels decadent.
How to Make Avocado Salad Dressing
If you have an ultra-soft avocado on hand, this avocado dressing is the perfect use for it and is great on so many other salads. To make it, simply scoop the flesh from the avocado and blend it all up with some garlic, cilantro, buttermilk, sour cream, red wine vinegar and olive oil until smooth. It’s like a healthier Ranch dressing, with just the right amount of tang.
Make This Recipe Even Easier
If you don’t want to grill outdoors, you can grill the chicken and corn on an indoor grill pan for similarly delicious results. Or, if you have fresh corn on the cob, skip the grilling step all together and use raw corn, sliced off the cob, and shredded rotisserie chicken from the grocery store for a perfect, summer-y meal.
Grilled Chicken Taco Salad with Avocado Dressing
For the taco salad:
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 1/2 lb. (750 g) boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 Tbs. canola oil
- 2 tsp. ground cumin
- 2 tsp. chili powder
- 2 ears of corn, husks and silks removed
- 10 cups (10 oz./315 g) chopped romaine lettuce
- 4 ripe plum tomatoes, chopped
- 1 can (15 oz./470 g) black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 cup (2 oz./60 g) shredded Monterey jack cheese
- 20 corn tortilla chips
For the dressing:
1 avocado, halved and pitted
1 garlic clove
1/4 cup (1/3 oz./10 g) loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) buttermilk
2 Tbs. sour cream or plain yogurt
2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
2 Tbs. olive oil
Prepare a medium-hot fire in a grill. At the same time, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat.
Arrange the chicken on a large plate. Brush on both sides with the canola oil and season all over with the cumin, chili powder and 1 tsp. salt. Coat the grill grate lightly with cooking spray. Arrange the chicken on the grate directly over the heat and grill, turning once, until nicely grill-marked and opaque throughout, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest while you cook the corn and make the dressing. Cover the grill to keep the coals warm.
Add the corn to the boiling water and cook until fork-tender, about 4 minutes. Drain the corn well, arrange on the grate directly over the heat and grill, turning as needed, until blackened in spots all over, about 6 minutes total. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool.
While the corn is cooling, make the dressing: Scoop the flesh from the avocado into a blender. Add the garlic, cilantro, buttermilk, sour cream, red wine vinegar and olive oil and process until the mixture forms a smooth puree. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
When the corn is cool enough to handle, cut the kernels from the cobs. Cut the chicken into 1-inch (2.5-cm) pieces. In a large bowl, toss the lettuce with just enough dressing to coat thoroughly and divide among 4 bowls. Top each salad with chicken, corn, tomatoes, black beans and Monterey jack, dividing them evenly. Crumble the tortilla chips over the top of each salad. Serve immediately, passing any extra dressing at the table. Serves 4.
For this and more ideas for tacos you’ll want to serve every night of the week, check out our new Taco Night, by Kate McMillan.