Saturday, June 29, 2013

Santa Fe Salad with Cilantro-Lime-Peanut Vinaigrette

Just got back from spending the weekend with my daughter in Salt Lake city. While there we HAD to eat at Cheesecake factory and one of my fav things is to get the Santa Fe Salad... Love the Cilantro-Lime peanut dressing. I have tried to make it before and came close but when I ran across this clone of it  I just had to give it a try....and it was delicious. You can find the original recipe here but I did tweaked it a bit to my taste which is the way I'm posting it. You can marinate and grill your chicken or use up leftover chicken. I hope you enjoy as much as I did! YUMMO!

Santa Fe Salad with Cilantro-Lime-Peanut
4 grilled chicken breasts, Sliced into thin strips
1 head romaine or leaf lettuce ( or packaged salad Spring mix)
1 large tomato, diced
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed
1 (16 oz.) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 cup fresh cilantro, stems cut off
1 1/2 cups grated Monterrey Jack cheese
1 avocado, diced
2 cups toasted corn tortilla strips **see tip at the bottom

Cilantro-lime-peanut vinaigrette
1 tsp. sesame oil
1/4 cup fresh cilantro (I used 1/2 of a bunch)
1/4 cup peanut butter
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed (or 1 scant Tablespoon of the minced or garlic in a tube)
1 Tbsp. Honey
1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. lime juice
1 tsp. lime zest (approx. zest of one lime)
1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
1/2 cup olive oil
Dash of salt and pepper
1 Tablespoon of water or so (If necessary)

To make vinaigrette, mix the first 10 ingredients in a food processor. Then slowly add olive oil to
mixture, and blend until smooth. Add freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste. Add water if your dressing is thicker than you like and blend again for a 2nd or two.
****You can add more or less peanut butter, lime juice or honey to adjust to your taste. Just experiment a bit.
To prepare salad,  slice cooked chicken into thin strips.
Wash and dry the lettuce, then cut into bite-sized pieces. Mix in cilantro then dress with desired amount of vinaigrette. Toss so your lettuce is evenly coated.
Divide the mixture between the four plates, and top each salad with chicken, then cheese,  corn, black beans, tomatoes, avocado and then tortilla strips. Finish with freshly-ground black pepper.
Inspired by The Cheesecake Factory--this is what the dressing looks like. I store my leftover in this handy dressing has a plunger in it so I can re-mix when eating it again.

**Tip: Ok, I may be overly enthusiastic about these little tortilla strips -- love them!! In case you've never
purchased them, they are usually available at the grocery store, often found in the salad dressing aisle. (I
found these at Kesler's market ) If you feel like going the extra mile, though, they're simple to make homemade. Just cut up your favorite flour or corn tortillas into 3 even columns, and then cut them again horizontally into matchsticks. Add salt or other seasonings if you'd like. Then pop them in the oven (or toaster oven - yay!)

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