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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Buffalo Chicken Salad with Creamy Avocado Ranch Dressing

 I have an unfortunate story related to this meal.  I don’t know about you, but it drives me nuts when I have a lot of dishes in the sink.  Last week, I was waiting for the oven to rise to 475 degrees and so I started washing the dishes to kill the time.  Unexpectedly, a glass cup broke in my hand, thus resulting in a trip to the emerg department.   I ended up receiving a total of 9 stitches to my right index finger, but was happy to report I was in and out in less than 1 hour.  Unfortunately those stitches are still with me (and will be for a total of 2 weeks!) and it’s still slightly sore....but it definitely could have been worse for sure! 

Anyway, after all that excitement, Gavin went and finished prepping the rest of the salad portion (I could no longer chop vegetables as the freezing was starting to wear off and it was becoming quite painful) and Gavin cut up everything up into bite-sized pieces for me.  Besides me feeling like a complete invalid, we absolutely loved this salad!  I’ve made it 3 times since (in just over a week) so you can tell we really enjoy it.  I am pleased that I have not developed an aversion to it as a result of that event.  If that doesn’t do it, I don’t know what will!!  We like quite a bit of spice and thought that the homemade avocado ranch dressing really balanced out the whole dish.  It’s so hard not putting this on the menu again for this week...maybe next week!?

Buffalo Chicken Salad with Creamy Avocado Ranch Dressing
Makes 3-4 servings.

For the buffalo chicken:
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
2 tbsp canola oil
1 ½ teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
½ teaspoon chipotle chili pepper (optional)

3 large egg whites
1 tbsp water
1 tbsp Dijon or whole-grain mustard
½ teaspoon dried thyme
Cooking spray

1 lb chicken tenderloins (or breasts sliced into 3/4-inch strips)

1 ½-2 cup buffalo sauce

For the dressing:
1/2 of an avocado, scooped from the skin and roughly diced
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sour cream
2 tsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
up to 1/2 cup buttermilk

2 small clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp sea salt
½-1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

For the salad assembly:
4 to 5 cups chopped romaine lettuce
1 cup grape tomatoes
1 cup sliced cucumber
¼ cup sliced green onions

buffalo chicken (as above)
creamy avocado ranch dressing (as above)
crumbled blue cheese (I recommend!)

For the chicken:
Preheat the oven to 475° F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.

In a large skillet, toss the panko with the oil, garlic powder, salt and chipotle chili pepper. Toast over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 8-10 minutes. Transfer the toasted crumbs to a shallow dish or pie plate.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the egg whites, water, mustard and thyme.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper.  Dip in the egg whites, then the panko to coat, shaking off the excess between each step. Lay the coated pieces on the prepared baking sheet and repeat.

Spray the tops of the chicken pieces lightly with the cooking spray. Bake for 7 minutes, then coat each chicken pieces with the buffalo sauce.  Cook for an additional 7-8 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.

For the dressing: 
While the chicken bakes, place all of the ingredients with 1/4 cup of buttermilk in a blender and blend for 10 seconds. Check consistency and blend in additional buttermilk if desired. Scrape down the sides of the blender and blend until the avocado is completely pureed.

Lay the buffalo chicken out over the prepared salads and spoon the dressing over the top. Serve with the chicken is still warm.

Source: adapted from Smells Like Home

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