Warm Spiced Pulled Chicken on Southwest Stacked Salad of Kale, Sweet Corn, Roasted Butternut Squash, and Tomatillo Salsa Verde

Recipe courtesy Pam Smith, RD, Orlando, FL



Salsa Verde

1 cupCoarsely chopped husked and rinsed tomatillos
1 mediumJalapeño, stemmed, seeded, and minced
1/3 cupChopped white onion
1/4 cupChopped fresh cilantro
1 1/2 TbspFresh lime juice
1 tspGround cumin
1 tspCreole seasoning or kosher salt
1 largeAvocado, peeled and rough diced

Chili-Lime Vinaigrette

1/3 cupFresh lime juice
2/3 cupWhite balsamic vinegar
2 TbspDijon mustard
2 TbspHoney
2 TbspChili-lime seasoning
1/3 cupExtra-virgin olive oil

Southwest Stacked Salad

1 lbTyson Roasted Pulled Chicken
1 cup½-in cubes butternut squash
2 ½ TbspExtra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cupChopped fresh cilantro
2 ½ TbspCreole seasoning or kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
1 lbGrape tomatoes
8 ea½-in-thick red onion rings
2 TbspBalsamic vinegar
2 to 3 cupsShredded curly kale
½ cupSweet corn kernels
1 cupCanned hominy, drained well and patted dry
1 eaLime, zested and juiced
1 TbspHot sauce (such as Cholula)
1 cupCrumbled feta cheese
¼ cupToasted pepitas
12 eaCilantro sprigs or a light handful of leaves, washed and dried
As neededCrispy tortilla strips
  1. For the Salsa Verde: Place all ingredients but the avocado in a food processor. Pulse the mixture until smooth. Add the avocado and pulse the mixture once more. Pour the salsa into a medium bowl and season with additional Creole seasoning or salt, to taste. Cover and chill at least 1 hour to marry flavors.
  2. For the Chili-Lime Vinaigrette: In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, vinegar, Dijon, honey, and chili-lime seasoning. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while whisking. Cover and set aside.
  3. For the Southwest Stacked Salad: Heat the oven with 2 sheet pans to 400 degrees F.
  4. Pull the chicken into thumb-size shreds, if needed.
  5. Place the squash in a large bowl; season and toss with ½ Tbsp olive oil and ½ tsp Creole seasoning. Spread on one of the heated sheet pans and roast until tender and lightly caramelized.
  6. Repeat that method with the tomatoes; cook until heated and just splitting.
  7. Season the onions with ½ Tbsp olive oil, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and the balsamic. Put them in a small ovenproof pan, cover with foil, and roast until lightly caramelized. Remove all the vegetables from the oven to cool to room temperature.
  8. Place the kale in a large stainless bowl, dress it with ½ Tbsp oil and 1 tsp salt. Rub the salt into the leaves and let stand for 20 minutes. This will make them more tender. 
  9. Add the corn, hominy, butternut, and tomatoes to the kale, and toss with the Chili-Lime Vinaigrette.
  10. Season the chicken with the remaining Creole seasoning, the hot sauce, and the lime juice and zest. Heat a sauté pan to medium high with the remaining ½ Tbsp oil; add the chicken to the pan and warm through.
  11. For each serving, place a 1- to 2-oz circle of Salsa Verde on a plate or bowl, spread with the back of a ladle to 6 in or so.  Place a ring mold on top of the sauce and fill it 3/4 full of dressed kale salad mixture. Press down well with the back of a spoon. Top the salad with warm spiced pulled chicken and 2 balsamic roasted onion rings. Crumble 1/4 cup feta over the top of the chicken and sprinkle with a little more spice. Sprinkle 1 Tbsp toasted pepitas on the salsa verde, garnish with cilantro, and add tortilla crisps to garnish salad if desired. Carefully remove the ring mold and serve.


Chef Notes: 

You will need 4 large cylinder ring molds. They can be made using cut PVC pipe or large clean aluminum cans (such as 28-oz size), with the tops and bottoms removed.

This salad pairs well with sparkling rosé or Spanish Albariño wine.

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