Craving Mexican food, but want to keep it light? This chicken fajita caesar salad could be the answer.
A good dish of fajitas is a flavor-packed creation. There’s hints of cumin, cilantro, lime, a little heat as well as the smoky flavor of seared meats. Add onion, bell pepper and maybe cheese or avocado, and you have quite the exciting dish. How about using those same flavors to create a chicken fajita caesar salad?
As I began to create a salad that represents the traditional flavors found in fajitas, the big question I struggled with was a dressing. The thoughts of a lime-cilantro vinaigrette, a chipotle dressing or any other Mexican-flavor inspired dressing almost seemed as if it could overwhelm the flavors of the fajita, itself. I felt a creamy-style dressing was in order. Nothing with powerful flavors. I thought ranch dressing at first, but then settled on caesar. It was a perfect combination and this chicken fajita caesar salad was born.
The caesar dressing was just tangy enough to complement the fajita flavors and the creaminess offered a soothing finish to the spices. After all, the caesar salad was actually created in Mexico, therefore, we’re staying geographically accurate.
We begin the chicken fajita caesar salad with lime-infused marinated grilled chicken and slightly seared veggies and serve it on top of fresh garden greens and top it with a home-made Mexican inspired caesar dressing. I know you’re going to love this recipe!O’le!
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
- 1 head romaine lettuce
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 red onion
- 1 jalapeño pepper
- extra virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/3 cup lime juice
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes, or per taste
- 1/4 cup light mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup crumbled Cotija or grated Parmesan cheese
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon lime juice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- salt and pepper to taste
- extra chopped cilantro
- sour cream
- extra cheese
- avocado slices
- tortilla chips
- hot sauce
- extra jalapeño slices
- Trim chicken of any excess fat and pat dry with a paper towel.
- Combine marinade ingredients in a small mixing bowl and whisk until well blended.
- Place chicken into a resealable food storage bag and add the marinade. Shake slightly until chicken is fully coated. Marinate for at least an hour and up to three hours.
- Add dressing ingredients to a mixing bowl and whisk until well blended. Cover and store in the refrigerator until ready for use.
- Peel and cut onion in half. Slice into thin strips.
- Stem and seed red bell pepper. Cut in half and slice into small strips.
- Slice jalapeño pepper into thin rounds.
- Cut romaine lettuce into bite-size pieces.
- Remove chicken from marinade.
- Grill Method: Prepare a grill for two-zone cooking (a hot side and a cool side) Place chicken directly over the fire and sear on each side until grill marks are prevalent and chicken is slightly charred. Relocate chicken to the cooler part of the grill and cover. Continue to cook until the chicken breasts reach an internal temperature of 160°F (70°C) using an instant-read meat thermometer or 170°F (77°C) for thighs. Remove from heat and allow chicken to rest for 10 minutes. Using a cast iron skillet, add a teaspoon of oil and heat directly over the fire. Add red peppers and onion and cover grill. Cook for about 3 minutes. Stir and cook for an additional 4 minutes while stirring occasionally until veggies are slightly charred.
- Stove Top Method: Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil to a skillet and heat using a medium-high heat. Add chicken and sear on each side until slightly charred (About 3-4 minutes). Reduce heat and cover. Continue to cook until the chicken breasts reach an internal temperature of 160°F (70°C) using an instant-read meat thermometer or 170°F (77°C) for thighs. Remove from pan and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Using the same pan, add a teaspoon of oil and heat over a medium-high heat. Add red peppers and onion and cook for about 3 minutes. Stir and cook for an additional 4 minutes while stirring occasionally until veggies are slightly charred.
- After chicken has rested, cut into thin strips or cubes and add to the vegetables. Continue to cook, while occasionally stirring, just until chicken is warmed through.
- Place romaine on plates and top with the vegetables, chicken and jalapeño slices.
- Garnish with desired toppings and drizzle dressing over salad or serve on the side.
Caution: The National Center for Home Food Preservation warns, “Wear plastic or rubber gloves and do not touch your face while handling or cutting hot peppers. If you do not wear gloves, wash hands thoroughly with soap and water before touching your face or eyes.” I’d like to add, don’t touch any other “tender” body parts, either.