Southwestern grilled chicken salad

Paleo Friendly, Gluten Free, Soy Free, Dairy Free

4 Servings, 530 Calories/Serving

20 Minutes

Consider this paleo-friendly main course a healthier taco salad, with buttery avocado and lean chicken cutlets instead of sour cream and cheese.


  • 1 cup cooked black beans
  • 1 cucumber
  • 3 or 4 red radishes
  • 3 ounces cherry tomatoes
  • Four ¼-pound chicken cutlets
  • 2 limes
  • Fresh cilantro
  • 2 avocados
  • 1 jalapeño (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 5 ounces baby arugula
  • 1¾ ounces corn tortilla strips (cooked in coconut oil)
  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo chile flakes (optional)

Chef's Tip

Taco salads’ popularity may have gotten a boost in the American mainstream with help from Fritos founder Charles Elmer Doolin, who invented the Tacup, a bowl made out of Fritos, which he filled with taco ingredients. A prototype of his Tacup mold is now part of the collection at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.



Prep the ingredients

  • Rinse the black beans.
  • Peel the cucumber, if desired, and trim off the ends; cut the cucumber in half lengthwise, then crosswise into ¼-inch-thick half-moons.
  • Trim the ends from the radishes; thinly slice the radishes.
  • Cut the cherry tomatoes in half.


Cook the chicken

  • Pat the chicken cutlets dry with a paper towel; season generously with salt and pepper.
In a large grill pan or frying pan over medium-high heat, warm 2 to 3 teaspoons oil until hot but not smoking. Add the chicken and cook until cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes per side, depending on thickness. Transfer to a cutting board to rest for 5 minutes, then cut crosswise into 1-inch-thick slices. While the chicken cooks and rests, prepare the salad.


Make the dressing and the salad

  • Zest the limes.
  • Juice the limes.
  • Coarsely chop the cilantro; divide into two equal portions, one for the salad and one for garnish.
  • Cut the avocados in half. Remove the pits, scoop out the flesh, and cut the flesh into ¼-inch-thick slices.
  • If using, remove the stem, ribs, and seeds from the jalapeño; finely chop the jalapeño. Wash your hands after handling.
In a large bowl, stir together the lime zest and juice, half the cilantro, sherry vinegar, as much jalapeño as you like, and 2 tablespoons oil. Season the dressing to taste with salt and pepper.
For a paleo version of the salad, dress the black beans separately: Transfer 1 tablespoon dressing to a small bowl, add the beans, and toss to coat; set aside for the non-paleo diners. Otherwise, add the beans directly to the large bowl with all of the dressing.
To the large bowl with the dressing, add the arugula, cucumber, radishes, and tomatoes and toss to coat. Season to taste with more salt and pepper, if needed.



Transfer the salad to individual plates and top with the chicken, avocado, and, for non-paleo diners, as many beans and tortilla strips as you like. Garnish with the remaining cilantro, sprinkle with as much Aleppo chile as you like, and serve.

Kids can!
  • Rinse the beans.
  • Juice the limes.
  • Scoop out the avocado.
  • Stir together the dressing.
  • Add tortilla strips to their salad.

Nutrition per serving: Protein: 34g (68% DV), Fiber: 13g (52% DV), Total Fat: 30g (46% DV), Monounsaturated Fat: 19g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 4.5g, Saturated Fat: 4.5g (23% DV), Cholesterol: 85mg (28% DV), Sodium: 240mg (10% DV), Carbohydrates: 33g (11% DV), Total Sugars: 4g, Added Sugars: 0g (0% DV). Not a significant source of trans fat.

Paleo-strict nutrition: Calories: 420, Protein: 30g (60% DV), Fiber: 9g (36% DV), Total Fat: 27g (42% DV), Monounsaturated Fat: 18g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Saturated Fat: 4g (20% DV), Cholesterol: 85mg (28% DV), Sodium: 190mg (8% DV), Carbohydrates: 16g (5% DV), Total Sugars: 3g, Added Sugars: 0g (0% DV). Not a significant source of trans fat.

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