Semi-Homemade Southwest Caesar Salad

After two weeks of living together in quarantine, we have come up with a pretty good system for meal planning. While it might seems a little OCD to plan out lunches and dinners every day for four adults, it actually helps cut back on food waste and helps us buy the minimum amount of groceries that we need every week. Cooking over 14 meals a week has its challenges, and by Thursday and Friday we are looking to be creative in the kitchen with minimal effort. In the last two weeks we have resorted to a number of semi-homemade meals, particularly for lunches. 

For this semi-homemade Monday, we have taken a regular old caesar salad bag and transformed it into a complete meal. We have given it a southwest twist by adding corn, tomatoes, black beans, and blackened chicken. To give the dressing its own makeover, we have blended a chipotle in adobo into the pre-made caesar dressing that came in the salad bag. Instead of a boring salad that would have us hungry in an hour, we created a complete meal that satisfies us until dinner. 

Semi-Homemade Southwest Caesar Salad 
Makes: 4 servings 
Prep Time: 30 minutes   Total Time: 40 minutes 

Ingredients: 

  • 4 chicken thighs 
  • 1 tbs olive oil 
  • 1 tbs garlic powder 
  • 1 tbs paprika 
  • salt and pepper to taste 
  • 1 large caesar salad bag (we bought ours from Costco so it was quite large) 
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half 
  • 1 cup corn (frozen works great just make sure it is thawed) 
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained 
  • 4 scallions, chopped 
  • 1 chipotle in adobo, minced (if you don’t have any, substitute Cholula or any hot sauce)

Directions: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 
  2. Heat a large, oven-safe pan over medium-high heat. Let the pan get nice and hot before adding the olive oil to the pan. 
  3. Season the chicken thighs on both sides with the garlic powder, paprika, salt, and pepper. Add the chicken to the pan and cook the chicken for 5 minutes per side. If you are using skin-on chicken, make sure the chicken is skin side down in the pan. Place the pan in the oven and cook for 20 – 25 minutes, or until the chicken juices are clear and the chicken is cooked through.
  4. While the chicken is cooking prepare the remaining ingredients. Layer the romaine from the salad bag, the cherry tomatoes, black beans, and scallions in each of four salad bowls. Reserve the corn for later. 
  5. Use the chipotle in adobo or hot sauce to kick up the caesar. Add as much of either to get to your desired spice level. 
  6. When the chicken has finished cooking, remove the chicken from the pan and set onto a cutting board to rest. Put the frozen corn into the same pot and toss it in the juices to give it some flavor. 
  7. Add the corn and a piece of chicken to each of the salads. Top with the dressing, parmesan cheese, and croutons from the salad bag. Serve immediately. 

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