Simple Layered Chicken Taco Salad


Since we’re hitting grilling and picnicking season, I decided to tap some of the great salad recipes I have and choose one that met several criteria. It had to be delicious cold, it had to portable, had to be no fuss, and it really had to appeal to the kiddos. We’ve got the end of the year picnic approaching, and I wanted to make something that would appeal to my grade schoolers, something special to congratulate them on a job well done.

I think my favorite part of this recipe is that once I prepped the ingredients and stashed them in the fridge, I discovered they were so easy and appealing that the children starting making them for themselves. Not too bad, since they’re loaded with lean protein and lots of fresh veggies. Any recipe the kids choose to fix for themselves that contains that much good stuff ranks high in my book.

You also have a couple of choice with this easy chicken salad. If you’d like, serve the chicken and black beans warm, and top with the fresh vegetables at the last minute to keep them crisp. Or chill all of the components and layer them together ahead of time. As long as they are kept cold, the vegetables will maintain their crunch. You can certainly serve them in regular bowls. But they’re so pretty layered into pint mason jars, then wrapped in napkins – they make a festive, perfect, portable picnic food.

One further note – you can certainly make this easy chicken salad with any leftover chicken. But you can plan ahead too. Plan on grilled chicken and vegetables for supper the night before your picnic, and grill up enough extra to have enough for this recipe chilled and ready to go. Simply reserve enough of your vegetables from grilling to toss into the black beans, and your picnic will almost pack itself!

Simple Chicken Taco Salad

2 cups cubed, grilled chicken

1 teaspoon chili or taco seasoning

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

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1 teaspoon chili or taco seasoning

¼ of an onion,  chopped

¼ bell pepper, chopped

2 ounces cherry tomatoes, chopped

1 cup Cheddar or Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded

2 green onions, chopped, tops included

½ cup sour cream

1 cup ice burg lettuce, chopped

2 ounces cherry tomatoes, chopped

Salsa, chopped avocado, tortilla chips

  1. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine black beans, chili or taco seasoning, onion, pepper, and 2 ounces cherry tomatoes. Stir to combine. Cook over medium-low heat until vegetables soften and are slightly tender, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. (Or serve warm if using immediately).
  2. In a medium bowl, toss cubed chicken with taco or chili seasoning.
  3. If you wish to layer into mason jars, add ingredients carefully to keep the layers distinct. Feel free to use any container you wish. Divide ingredients among four pint jars, starting first with the chicken. Add a layer of the black bean mixture, then the cheese. Top with green onions, sour cream and ice burg lettuce. Finish with cherry tomatoes and serve with salsa, avocado and tortilla chips.