This is my translation of a number of copy-cat versions of one of my favorite restaurant salads. Did you follow that OK? The restaurant is Houston's, and the salad is their Grilled Chicken Salad with Honey-Lime Vinaigrette. Sadly, they're not big on sharing their recipes, or I'd be making their Spinach and Artichoke Dip by the bathtub-ful!!
Aside from the dip and salad, I also loved their Tortilla Soup, their Cous Cous, and their Cheeseburgers with Shoestring Fries. They changed the soup at some point. I could never get an answer out of the staff, and I couldn't put my finger on it, but whatever it was ruined it for me. They used to be jam-packed on Tuesdays and Thursday because of that soup. They alternate days, so on certain days they would serve their chili, on others the Tortilla, etc. It's one of the few places where I really love the burgers, but they are ginormous!! If you want the dip too (with a huge bowl of their awesome thin/crispy tortilla chips, salsa, and sour cream), plan to split and order of both with someone, or you'll end up with lots of leftovers. Another disappointment was when they started making their own fries. I don't know where they were getting them before that, but they were perfectly crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.
Houston's is one of the handful of things I really miss from New Orleans. I was very pleasantly surprised when we got back to the City after Hurricane Katrina to find them open. There were probably only two or three places functioning in the area at that point, and it turned out we picked the perfect day because that was their first day too. They didn't disappoint! Unfortunately, when I was in Boston visiting a few years ago, I had a chance to go to the one at Faneuil Hall, but there was no comparison. The food was the same, but the attitude/ambiance was a whole other story! They apparently wanted to give that one a more upscale feel, but I think it lost its charm in the process.
I won't bother posting amounts, since it will obviously vary with how many people you're feeding. The dressing and sauce are plenty for a good sized volume of "stuff."
Chicken, torn into bite-sized pieces
Romaine lettuce, torn
Mesclun mix, at least 1/3 the amount of romaine used
A big handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
Carrots, cut into matchsticks
Red, orange, and/or yellow bell peppers, sliced
Peapods or Sugar Snaps, cut on the bias
1/3 c lime juice
1 T honey mustard
4-5 T honey
4 T canola oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 t black pepper
1/2 t sea salt
PEANUT DRIZZLE :
3 T creamy peanut butter
3 T soy sauce
3 T hot water
2 t sesame oil
1 T fresh ginger, grated
1 t New Mexico dried diced chiles
Fried corn tortilla strips (might find them at grocery store already made)
Cajun or other spicy seasoning blend if making your own tortilla chips
Oil for frying (I used canola)
- Toss together your chicken and veggies in a big bowl.
- Whisk together the dressing ingredients and pour enough over the salad to lightly coat, tossing gently to combine.
- Whisk together your peanut sauce, chop your peanuts, and set both aside.
- If you are making your own tortilla strips, just slice a stack of corn tortillas into thin strips and fry until golden. When you remove them from the pot, transfer them to a brown paper bag or paper-towel lined plate to drain and sprinkle with a spicy seasoning blend. If the spice blend doesn't have any salt in it, you might want to hit them with a little salt too.
- Pile some of the dressed salad in each bowl/plate, then drizzle with a little peanut sauce, sprinkle with peanuts, and top with a pile of tortilla strips in the middle ... then dig in and enjoy!!