August 1, 2011

Grilled Chicken Salad with Rustic Guacamole, Romaine and Queso Anejo

Why, hello there. Have you missed me? I've missed all of you. Once again, life has been hectic around these parts. We are in the middle of some major real estate juggling, and that is no easy feat with three kids in tow. Also, my son is gearing up to start kindergarten in less than a week; so in addition to moving/packing, we are in full "yikes,school is starting soon" mode. Basically, I have been doing some fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants cooking. Nothing exciting to post...unless you want to know exactly how I manage to whip up scrambled eggs for dinner.

I started South Beach Diet Phase 1 again, too. Well, I did. I lasted a week, and then I broke down and had some carbs (and alcohol). I needed to shed a few pounds fast before my 1/2 marathon in (eek!) 5 weeks. I took off 5 of the 8 pounds I set for my goal pre-race weight. Then, I caved in to temptation. I decided from now until the race I am going to try to stick with SBD phase 1, but if I have carbs now and again no biggie. I should still be able to lose the 3 extra pounds on a low/modified carb intake.

Enough about me. Let's talk about Rick Bayless...

I heart Rick Bayless (as I've mentioned several times). Every recipe just reconfirms my adoration. Someday I hope to eat at all of his a food vacation centered around Rick Bayless. That may sound a little extreme, but that is how much I l-o-v-e him. This chicken salad was fantastic. My BFF Claire made it last week, and reminded me of it in the Mexican Everyday cookbook. It is SBD Phase 1 friendly and it was delicious. RB took the pedestrian chicken Caesar salad and made it sing. Rick B. rocks!

Grilled Chicken Salad with Rustic Guacamole, Romaine and Queso Anejo
From: Mexican Everyday by: Rick Bayless


½ cup vegetable or olive oil, plus a little more for onion
4 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
Fresh hot green chiles to taste (I like 2 serranos or 1 large jalapeno), stemmed and halved
½ cup fresh lime juice
¾ cup (loosely packed) cilantro, roughly chopped
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

4 medium (about 1¼ pounds total) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 medium white onion, cut into ½-half-inch slices
2 ripe avocados
8 cups romaine hearts, sliced crosswise at ½-inch thick
1/3 cup grated Mexican queso anejo or other garnishing cheese (Romano or Parmesan)

Heat oil in small skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and chiles; cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is soft and lightly browned (usually 1 to 2 minutes). Pour oil, garlic and chiles into blender jar or food processor. Add lime juice, cilantro, black pepper, and 1 scant teaspoon salt. Process garlic mixture until smooth.

Pour 1/3 of garlic mixture over chicken breasts, spreading it evenly over all sides.

Heat a grill pan or gas grill to medium to medium-high heat (or start a charcoal fire and let it burn until coals are medium hot and covered with white ash). Lightly brush or spray onion slices with oil; sprinkle with salt. Lay chicken and onion on grill pan or grill. Cook until chicken is just cooked through and onion is well browned (3 to 4 minutes on each side). Chop onion into small pieces and scoop into bowl. Set the chicken aside to cool.

Pit and peel avocados, scooping flesh into bowl with onion. Add another 1/3 of garlic mixture, then coarsely mash everything together with old-fashioned potato masher, large fork or back of spoon. Taste and season with salt (usually about ½ teaspoon).

Scoop the sliced romaine into large bowl. Drizzle on remaining 1/3 of garlic mixture and toss to combine. Divide between 4 dinner plates. Scoop a portion of guacamole into center of each plate. Cut each breast into cubes and arrange over guacamole. Sprinkle each plate with garnishing cheese. Serve.

The Result:
It. was. awesome. I followed the recipe to the letter, and it was soooooo tasty. Each component was perfectly complimented by the next. It was very filling and satisfying; and I just love the idea of the salad dressing being used for the chicken marinade and in the guacamole. Yum. Try this will make you happy.

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