When asked earlier in the day if I had any dinner ideas for tonight, I was a complete blank. I hadn't even thought about dinner yet, and it's been so hot out, who wants to cook?!? I was happy parked in front of a fan doing crosswords on Facebook and wandering around Pinterest at the time. If you haven't discovered Pinterest yet, it's a website where people post images, so it's kind of a virtual tackboard. You can post individual photos, or pin photos from other websites and blogs so the link goes with them. That way, you have a visual reference rather than a list of websites you want to refer back to. It's great for foodies, photographers, crafters, fashionistas, etc.
Pinterest is where I found the inspiration for tonight's dinner in the form of a post for a Chipotle Chicken Taco Salad (click to refer to original blog post) by Tami at Nutmeg Notebook.
1 can crisp corn
1 can black beans
1/4 t cumin
1 t chili powder
1 thin/firm cucumber
1 small orange bell pepper
1 small red onion
1 pint grape tomatoes
cooked chicken (I used a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store)
tortilla strip crisps and/or pumpkin seeds
whatever lettuce or mixed greens you like
6 oz container of plain yogurt
1 clove garlic
pinch of salt
lime juice to taste (I used 2 small limes)
milk - optional
Drain the corn and rinse the black beans well, tossing both in a large bowl with the cumin and chlii powder so they'll start soaking up that flavor.
Dice the cucumber (peeled/seeded or not, up to you), orange bell pepper, and red onion. Toss those with the corn and black beans, then quarter the grape tomatoes and chop a handful of cilantro, adding those to the mix as well.
|Smells good already!|
For the dressing, throw everything** in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. I had thought that the yogurt would be enough to thin the mixture once it was blended, but all of the avocados were on the firm side today, so I ended up adding some milk to thin it. As you can see, it's still pretty thick. I debated adding a splash of white balsamic, but I was afraid that would make it too acidic on top of the lime juice. It was very tasty, just thicker than I anticipated. Would be great to scoop with veggies or chips.
** If you have not used avocados before and aren't sure how to handle them, it's super easy. Make a slice all the way around the center, lengthwise, then twist to separate the halves. One half will contain the pit. Hit the pit with the blade of your knife and twist to pop it out, then slide a spoon between the skin and the flesh (that sounds gross) to scoop the avocado out of its shell.
You can certainly toss everything together if you want, but I was in a layering mood today, so I washed and chopped the lettuce, plating that first, then topped it with a scoop of the veggie mixture. I tore the chicken into bite-sized pieces and piled that on top of the veggies, topping the whole thing off with a spoonful of dressing and a sprinkling of tortilla strips.
Thinking it was too hot to stand over a pot of hot oil to make tortilla strips, I intended to use pumpkin seeds for a textural contrast, so I grabbed a bag on my way by. As it turned out, I found a bag of tortilla strips in the crouton section, so I used those, forgetting I had already picked up a bag of pumpkin seeds. (I know what I'll be snacking on later.)
If you want to make your own tortilla strips, it's super easy. Just buy a package of small corn tortillas, cut them into strips about 1/4" wide and an inch or so long. Drop them into hot oil until golden and crisp, then remove them to a paper towel or brown paper bag to drain, tossing them with whatever seasoning you like. Don't worry about having too much - they're great for snacking, so the extras won't last long!
Also, I had picked up two avocados, intending to use one for the dressing and dicing the other into the salad, but because they were so firm, I changed my mind. If you want to add avocado to yours, go for it! I'm letting the other one sit for a few days.
Thanks Tami and Pinterest for the inspiration! :)