Easy Southwest Chicken Arugula Salad

This Easy Southwest Chicken and Arugula Salad features grilled corn and zucchini, black beans, tiny tomatoes, and creamy Cilantro Jalapeño Ranch Dressing… a perfect way to use the late-summer bounty of zucchini, tomatoes, and corn! Rotisserie chicken makes it super quick and easy!

Southwest Chicken and Arugula Salad with grilled zucchini and corn, tomatoes, black beans in a white salad bowl with a cruet of Cilantro Jalapeño Ranch Dressing and 2 salad plates in the background.

👩🏻‍🍳 Tamara Talks – Recipe Inspiration

Is it still summer in your “neck of the woods?” I often refer to our locale as “the land of eternal summer.” While I look forward to somewhat cooler weather in the weeks and months ahead, I’m still cooking food on the lighter (and cooler) side!

For some of you, though, summer has slipped away, and you might be more interested in my Mexican Shrimp Boil or Instant Pot Pork and Hatch Chile? Perhaps you’re mourning the loss of the long, warm summer days…

When summer gathers up her robes of glory, And, like a dream, glides away.

~~ Sarah Helen Whitman

Given my propensity for focusing on warm-weather fare, I felt compelled to bring you this delicious, healthy, super quick and easy recipe before it became ridiculous… Haha.

The prepped ingredients for Southwest Chicken and Arugula Salad ready to be assembled. It's so quick and easy to make!

Salad Ingredients

  • corn – As shown in the photos, I like to grill my corn. I won’t tell you if you don’t!
  • zucchini
  • black beans – You need cooked black beans. They can be rinsed and drained canned beans, or cooked from died black beans. You can also substitute pintos, red beans, chick peas, etc.
  • chicken breast – This chicken salad with grilled veggies is a great way to use rotisserie chicken!
  • arugula – I love the peppery bite of arugula, but you can substitute your favorite greens or what you have in the refrigerator.
  • tomatoes – I love tiny tomatoes for this grilled chicken and veggie salad. Choose your favorite.
  • avocado
  • Cilantro Jalapeño Ranch Dressing

Dressing Ingredients

  • buttermilk
  • mayonnaise
  • plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • fresh lime juice
  • garlic
  • jalapeño – Substitute serrano or other pepper if desired.
  • cilantro
  • fresh chives or shallot

🔪 Instructions

  • Grill the corn (optional) – Prep the corn for the grill. Get it started, then prep the zucchini for the grill. I recommend about 20 minutes to grill corn, turning frequently.
  • Grill the zucchini – The zucchini needs about 10 minutes.
  • Make the Cilantro and Jalapeño Ranch Dressing – Add all dressing ingredients to the bowl of your blender. Pulse 2-3 times. Give it a good shake. Repeat until smooth.
  • Make the salad – Add the arugula to a large salad bowl. Cube the chicken, and add to the salad. Prep the tomatoes. Add the beans and tomatoes. While the corn cools, cube the zucchini. I cut the halved zucchini in half lengthwise one more time. Then cut crosswise about 3/4″ thick. Add to the salad. Cut the corn from the cobs and add them to the salad.
  • Dress the salad – Toss everything together with the dressing. Enjoy!
Cilantro Jalapeño Ranch Dressing in a glass cruet being poured over the Southwest Chicken and Arugula Salad in a white ceramic bowl with print napkin.

🥗 Tips

Grilling the vegetables isn’t a requirement. The extra flavor boost provided by the grilling process (aka maillard reaction) is worth the time. If you love raw zucchini (I do), and you’re okay with thawed and rinsed frozen corn, that’s always an option.

I usually use the breast from a rotisserie chicken for this dish, but any cooked chicken will work. Often my husband will grill a couple of extra chicken breasts for lunches or a second meal, and that’ll work too!

You’ll need about 2 cups of cooked black beans. My preference is always the cooked and then frozen black beans in my freezer, but canned black beans are a pantry staple and an item that I use often in my recipes when I don’t have my own.

Don’t care for black beans? Substitute your favorite beans, or omit them entirely…

Vegetables can be a polarizing ingredient for some. I rarely meet a vegetable I don’t love. Because this main dish salad has a Mexican or southwest vibe, I chose the usual suspects – zucchini, corn, avocado, and tomatoes. Again, substitute your favorites.

On photo day, my avocado was not up to snuff, and had to be relegated to the trash can. 😢Avocados are definitely a tasty addition to your Chicken and Arugula Salad!

Lastly, the dressing is key to the flavor profile of this simple salad. My Cilantro Jalapeño Ranch dressing requires only a few minutes of your time, and it totally makes the dish. I’ve included the recipe below. If you are just not into making salad dressings, try a bottled jalapeño or chipotle ranch… something with Mexican flavors!

The tossed salad in a single serving bowl with fork and print napkin.

As “Summer” draws to a close (in just 10 calendar days!), are you looking forward to pulling out sweaters, cooking hearty soups and stews, raking leaves? My husband and I are looking forward to the grass (and weeds) slowing down a bit. Lol.

Signature in red and green with chiles and limes.

Southwest Chicken and Arugula Salad in a white ceramic bowl with print napkin.

Southwest Chicken and Arugula Salad

A healthy southwest chicken and arugula salad with grilled veggies and a creamy cilantro and jalapeno ranch dressing.
5 from 3 votes

Click to rate!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Salads
Cuisine Mexican/Southwest
Servings 2 servings
Calories 340 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 small ears fresh corn
  • 1 large zucchini - cut in half lengthwise twice
  • 1 15 ounces can black beans - rinsed and drained
  • ½ cup tiny tomatoes - cut in half lengthwise
  • 2 cups cubed or diced chicken breast - see notes
  • 5 ounces arugula
  • Cilantro Jalapeño Ranch Dressing - recipe below

Instructions

  • Prep the corn for the grill. Get it started, then prep the zucchini for the grill. I recommend about 20 minutes to grill corn, turning frequently. The zucchini needs about 10 minutes.
  • Add the arugula to a large salad bowl.
  • Cube the chicken, and add to the salad.
  • Prep the tomatoes. Add the beans and tomatoes.
  • While the corn cools, cube the zucchini. I cut the halved zucchini in half lengthwise one more time. Then cut crosswise about 3/4" thick. Add to the salad.
  • Cut the corn from the cobs and add them to the salad.
  • Toss everything together with the dressing. Enjoy!

Notes

I make this salad in under 30 minutes. My husband grills the squash and corn while I make the dressing and prep the other ingredients.
I love rotisserie chicken, and keep it on hand for lunches throughout the week, and then make stock with the carcass. I prefer the breast meat for this salad. You can grill chicken breast alongside the corn (it requires similar time) if you prefer.
If you are really in a hurry, you don’t have to use grilled veggies (they do taste good!). Use your favorites.

Nutrition

Calories: 340kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 8g

NOTE: Macronutrients are an approximation only using unbranded ingredients and MyFitnessPal.com. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

Did you make this recipe? Please leave a comment and/or star rating! Email us with any questions: tamara@beyondmeresustenance.com

🍗 More Recipes for Rotisserie Chicken

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