A fresh and healthy southwestern chicken kale salad with chopped chicken, bell peppers, avocado, corn, tomatoes, green onions, cilantro, and a healthy taco dressing!
Four years ago, almost to this day, I posted what is one of my most popular recipes on my site: Southwestern Chopped Chicken Salad. The funny thing was, I took the photos with my iPhone. I talk in the post about how I lost my camera charger and it had died, so I resorted to using my iPhone (and an Instagram filter – GAH!) to take pictures for that post.
It figures – the photos I spent the very least time on were the ones that went viral. Oh the irony!
While I’ve made that salad multiple times in the past few years, it has changed little by little, to what I now think is my *perfect* southwestern salad.
Even though this salad is really very similar to my old Southwestern Chopped Chicken Salad, I couldn’t help but re-make it and share the version with you that I prefer now – dark leafy greens instead of iceberg lettuce, red bell pepper instead of green, more corn, lots of avocado, and a healthier dressing.
The dressing in my Southwestern Chopped Chicken Salad wasn’t unhealthy, as it was still mostly Greek yogurt, I just thought it could use a face lift. I didn’t think it needed 1/2 cup of mayo in it, so I cut the mayo back to 1/4 of a cup. I also ditched the ranch seasoning, used homemade taco seasoning, and added some salsa, lime juice, and a splash of milk to thin it out. You can definitely store-bought taco seasoning (I love Trader Joe’s!) if you want.
I also think the upgrade from iceberg lettuce to kale is one that’s not only more healthy, but more delicious, too! Now, maybe that’s because I’ve just grown to love kale in all forms – raw, sautéed, roasted, or blended in a smoothie, but I really do prefer the chewy texture of it to iceberg. If you’re not so sure, maybe go half and half with romaine and kale. This way you’ll get the crunchiness from romaine but that dark leafy green goodness from the kale.
The one great thing that I absolutely love about all kale salads is that kale is so tough, it doesn’t get all soggy from the dressing, meaning you can eat leftovers the next day. Which is a good thing because this salad makes a LOT.
It was great as a lunch or dinner salad but I can also it see it being the hit side salad of a barbecue or potluck. I mean, who doesn’t like a southwestern salad with a creamy (but healthy!) taco dressing? There’s a reason people went crazy over my Southwestern Chopped Chicken Salad and I’m hoping you all love this one even more!
For the Dressing:
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup salsa
- 2 tablespoons taco seasoning
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoon milk
For the salad:
- 8 cups tuscan kale roughly chopped
- 2 cups shredded chicken breast
- 1 red bell pepper seeds and white part removed, and diced
- 1 1/2 cup frozen corn thawed
- 1 cup diced cherry tomatoes
- 1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 4 green onions diced
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro chopped
- 1 avocado diced
To make the dressing:
- Combine all dressing ingredients in a small food processor and pulse until smooth and combined.
- In a large bowl, combine kale, chicken, bell pepper, corn, tomatoes, and black beans.
- Add dressing and toss well to combined.
- Top with green onions, cilantro, and avocado, lightly tossing to combine.
- Serve and enjoy!