I really like the take-out BBQ Chicken Salad from Trader Joe’s. It’s the item I choose most often when having a grab-and-go lunch. It has a nice blending of flavors and textures. Every time I eat this salad, I think to myself that I could probably come up with a recipe to recreate it at home.
When I recently picked up a copy of Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Family Favorites by Beth Hensperger, I quickly spotted a barbecue chicken salad recipe. While it wasn’t exactly like the Trader Joe’s salad, it looked like a great starting point.
I used the recipe’s “Barbecue Dressing” as-is, but changed up almost everything else. Many of the ingredients are the same but I changed the proportions. Most significantly, I grilled the chicken instead of poaching it in the slow cooker, and I added Romaine lettuce and Ranch dressing.
The end result tastes very much like the Trader Joe’s salad! The creamy sweetness of the Ranch dressing contrasts nicely with the tangy spiciness of the barbecue sauce. The Romaine gives the salad a nice crunch.
BBQ Chicken Salad
- 2/3 cup ketchup
- 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 clove garlic, pressed
- 1 cup fresh, frozen, or canned corn kernels
- ½ cup cooked black beans, drained and rinsed if canned
- ½ cup finely chopped red bell pepper
- 1½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 3)
- ½ cup thinly sliced red onion
- 1 cup shredded Jack cheese (about 4 oz)
- 10 cups chopped Romaine lettuce (about 2 hearts)
- Ranch Dressing (use your favorite – I used Litehouse)
- ½ cup crushed tortilla chips
In a small bowl, mix the Barbecue Dressing ingredients together, stirring with a whisk to mix well. Place ¼ cup of the dressing in a smaller bowl and set aside.
If using fresh or frozen corn, cook briefly in boiling water until just tender. Drain and cool. If using canned corn, drain well. Combine the corn, black beans and red bell pepper in a small bowl and set aside.
Season the chicken breasts on both sides with salt and pepper. Brush the chicken with the reserved ¼ cup Barbecue Dressing. Grill or broil the chicken until cooked through. Let the chicken cool a bit, and then cut it into bite-sized pieces.
Place the Romaine lettuce in a large bowl. Toss with the Ranch dressing to taste. Divide the Romaine between 4 plates. Place a quarter of the corn salsa on top of each serving. Next divide the red onions and Jack cheese among the plates. Add the chicken on top of the onions and cheese. Drizzle a little of the Barbecue Dressing on top of each salad. Finally, top with the crushed tortilla chips.
Pass the extra Barbecue Dressing at the table so diners can add to taste.