As kids, we went on a lot of picnics. I used to think it was because my mom just loved the outdoors, but now that I’m older, I see that she also liked the simplicity of eating lunch at the beach or the park: Not much mess, not much cooking, and no kids dropping crumbs and spilling Kool-Aid on the kitchen floor.
Back then, we usually just took sandwiches or picked up some fried chicken. I’ve been known to do that, too, but I also like the idea of a more grown-up picnic. This light salad is perfect for any outdoor meal, plus it’s easy to make, especially if you start with a rotisserie chicken or another form of pre-cooked chicken. (If you’re also feeding kids who are big salad fans, buy an extra rotisserie chicken or some fried chicken strips at the deli, and take along some chips – they’ll be happy too!)
If you’re packing this in your cooler to take along, mix the salad ingredients and place in a large plastic zippered bag, and put the dressing in a separate, tightly sealed container. (A large plastic bag works well for this, too.) Then, toss salad just before eating.
Grilled Chicken Salad w/Smoked Chile Vinaigrette
1 cup cooked chicken, shredded or sliced (rotisserie chicken works well)
2 cups iceberg lettuce, chopped, or pre-washed salad mix
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1/4 cup roasted and salted pecans
1/4 cup pineapple, diced
1/4 cup red cabbage, julienned
1/4 cup smoked chile vinaigrette (recipe below)
4-6 sprigs cilantro, leaves
1-2 handfuls tortilla chips (lightly crushed)
2 chipotles, canned
1 shallot, peeled
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1 cup extra virgin olive
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 tsp. salt
For the vinaigrette: place all ingredients except the olive oil in a blender and pulse 2-3 times to slightly liquefy these ingredients. Once liquefied, turn the blender to medium speed and slowly add the olive oil until all ingredients are incorporated and you have a nice emulsified vinaigrette. You can add more salt if necessary.
For the salad: Mix all ingredients together. Toss with dressing. Garnish with cilantro and tortilla chips. Serve.