This should be called Happiness Salad, really, because it truly does make whoever eats it very happy. Especially children. What’s that you say, ‘my child doesn’t eat salad’? A-HA! Try this one and then come back to me. I offer a no quibbles, 100% guarantee that they will eat
all most of the things on the plate. If I’m wrong then you have my permission to knock on my door and slap my face when I appear. Or maybe just Tweet me.
I saw a similar salad ages ago on The Pioneer Woman‘s website – I just love Ree – and I tried her recipe out. Everyone went wild for it. I knew I wanted to feature it on here, it’s such a jolly, healthy family recipe that would brighten up the most depressing of days. This is my version. It’s not so totally different, but I’ve made some changes. I loved the original so much that I wanted to remain true to the main components: juicy chicken (I use thigh as I prefer the meat), creamy avocado, crunchy fresh sweetcorn, piquant blue cheese dressing (I make my own), and then the piece de resistance – crushed tortilla chips on top. You heard me right, crisps on a salad. See, I told you your kids would love this!
It is very easy, but it is also a little bit time consuming, getting all the separate components together. So for that reason I think it’s a weekend dish, or one for when you have some time to prepare something special. This would be just perfect for a kid’s birthday party or a family BBQ. Ideally, serve on a large plate for people to help themselves to. Summer is coming people, I can feel it!
Serves: 4 adults
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
3 or 4 free-range or organic chicken thighs (I used 3 but they were quite big)
1 tablespoon of good quality Cajun spice mix (if you don’t have this simply use a little cumin, paprika, and chilli powder mixed up – or even go naked!)
8 tomatoes, halved
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
Handful fresh coriander, chopped roughly
1/2 lime, juice to squeeze
2 cobs of fresh sweetcorn, shucked (you could use tinned but it won’t be quite as nice)
2 baby gem lettuces, sliced quite thinly
1 ripe avocado, diced
Handful of salted tortilla chips
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Blue cheese dressing: (you could always buy this, either Ranch dressing or a blue cheese variety)
100g blue cheese, crumbled
150ml sour cream
Tablespoon of red wine vinegar
Tablespoon of water
- Dust the thighs with Cajun coating – I use bone-in ones and sliced around it afterwards, but feel free to spend more on boneless thighs, do however choose ones with skin on for flavour. Fry in a very hot pan with some oil, turning every ten minutes or so. They should take around 25-35 minutes, depending on the size. When you think they are done, slice up and set aside. If you are worried they are still a little pink (I always seems to fret about this!), don’t worry, you can give them a final toss in the hot pan before serving.
- If you have room in the same pan, add your cobs to cook in the chicken-y Cajun juices for the last 10-15 minutes. If not, then either wait until after the chicken is done, or use a different pan. Keep turning them to cook all sides. When they’re done, carefully shuck the corn: hold the cob vertically with a tea towel, and with a sharp knife, cut downwards to remove all the corns.
- Meanwhile, make your blue cheese dressing. Whizz up in a processor (or mash with a fork) to get a smoothish consistency. I find that you always need to stir before serving as the cheese sinks to the bottom. Lumps are to be embraced, I say…
- When your chicken / sweetcorn is sliced / shucked, you are ready to arrange the salad. Scatter your sliced lettuce over a large serving platter. Add halved tomatoes, sliced onions, a scattering of coriander (hold some back) and avocado. Now the chicken and sweetcorn too too. Squeeze lime juice over it all. You may want to gently toss the salad with your fingers at this point, so all elements can be seen. Pour over some dressing (leave lots to serve in a jug alongside) and scatter lightly crushed tortilla chips. One last scattering of coriander and you… are… DONE!