I didn’t realize how attached I was to this recipe until I couldn’t find it. I am a HUGE fan of the California Pizza Kitchen BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad, even after I read somewhere that it’s 750 calories. (Roughly a Big Mac and small fries.) Nutritional info not withstanding, it turns out that making your own is easy, especially if you use helpful shortcuts from the supermarket. (In other words, Semi-Homemade!)
Isn’t it magnificent? I brought it to a dinner party in a big, beautiful serving bowl and it was gone before you could say CPK. It’s kind of labor intensive with all the chopping, but the results were well worth it! (And now I can use my food processor, yay!) Since it requires only the slightest bit of on-site finagling and doesn’t take up space in my host’s oven, this is my new go-to dish for potlucks, parties, etc.
So here is the recipe (I halved it, which was just enough for six people with lots of other options) and here are my super-sneaky shortcuts:
- Store-bought tortilla chips, crumbled
- Whole head of romaine lettuce instead of half/half with iceberg
- Toss salad just before serving with high-quality buttermilk ranch dressing, to taste
- 2-3 grilled, fried, broiled or barbecued chicken breasts from the hot deli counter (Peel off the skin and chop into bite-sized cubes)
- Skip the cilantro because too many people hate it
- Be sure to peel your jicama (this won’t be easy)
- Use plum tomatoes and squeeze ’em a bit before chopping (thanks for that tip, Rachael Ray) so they don’t make everything soggy
- Top the salad with one or two chopped avocados that you’ve drizzled with lime juice and lightly salted
- A few lime wedges are a nice touch
Follow step #4 in the recipe “Directions” to assemble the salad. I always wondered what that fresh, ever-so-slight licorice flavor was that kept me coming back for more of this salad, and I mistakenly assumed it was fennel. It’s a healthy dose of basil!
This was good enough that even my veggie friends were tempted to nibble around the chicken, making me think that you could make it with cubes of firm tofu, if you were so inclined, or just skip the protein altogether. I know, I know, we’re in holiday party mode now and it’s a very summery salad. But the colors are so Christmassy! And most of the ingredients are now available year ’round, except for jicama, and peeling that thing was like wrestling a warthog, so maybe you’re better off without it!
One last caveat — the ingredients for this salad were a cool $35. (Ouch.) You can get a Totino’s party pizza for $1.50. Food for thought.